What's Seeping on Mars?

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PostPosted: May 23, 2014 1:24 PM 


What’s Seeping on Mars? Recurring Slope Lineae (RSL)

RSL were first detected within isolated craters, but we now find them regularly along canyon walls, small mounds, landslide scarps, and other landforms.


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PostPosted: May 23, 2014 2:04 PM 


Thanks for the link above. Very instructive. So we now know that avoiding anything that seems to be possibly carrying microbial life is a distinct policy.

I suspect that Curi will have a lot of avoiding to do in the next several months as it encounters more and more putative "debris flows" and damp looking channels while approaching Mt Sharp.



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PostPosted: May 23, 2014 2:20 PM 

It's like Galileo's inquisition tribunal is in charge of this wounderful rover Rolling Eyes


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PostPosted: May 24, 2014 8:29 AM 


To me, it just goes to show that mankind has not changed much over the centuries since Galileo. The top science establishments have taken over the former role of the church to ensure that developments follow a certain path (and, who knows, with the hidden knowledge they possess they may be right).

UMSF is a great example of the ease with which very good scientists can be constrained to be like sheep and stay slavishly within established ground rules whether they make sense or not. Doug snaps the whip of excommunication and the admittedly excellent scientists follow, without protest.

But don't worry, Be happy! Science will advance as a few mavericks will have the last word eventually.


Kye Goodwin

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PostPosted: May 24, 2014 12:50 PM 

LWS, re your 3, I came to this thread to post about RSL, but I have to say this about the scientists running of the rover research: where they are wrong I think they are making honest mistakes, at least in so far as humans are ever honest about anything important to them. Probably a lot of the usual human stuff is in the way: herd behaviour, rivalry, failure of imagination and so on but there is no "hidden knowledge" or conspiracy involved in my opinion. Mostly the problem is that they are not very interested in present-day Mars.

I've got this single revelation in my mind about the RSL. In the Planetary Society article that computerist posted in reply 0, there is an image of an RSL site in Melas Chasma. Please have a look. The caption reads, "Melas Chasma RSL forming on a fan of fine-grained material...". Here's my revelation, which I think is so obvious that one day it will be hard to understand why we didn't get it sooner: The RSL have created that "fan of fine-grained material" over a long period of time. In that image every RSL apparently starts at the very top of the slope, up against overhanging rock outcrops, and the entire slope from side to side is receiving RSL material. Repeated imaging shows that these active sites are common and widespread in the low latitudes of Mars. We are seeing material being added to the slope and just because we are catching the action it is likely that this process has been going on for a long time, and yet we continue to imagine that some other process creates the slope of fine-grained material and the RSL are only accidentally associated with it. Let's go with the obvious instead and see where it leads.


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PostPosted: May 24, 2014 10:04 PM 


You've put the situation much more politically correctly than I can or did. I can understand and appreciate your position, which I essentially agrees with. Given your listing of the lot of the usual human stuff there is really no need for an overt conspiracy.


Joe Smith

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PostPosted: May 25, 2014 11:00 AM 

Thanks for the link computerist,, very interesting and descriptive, below I put an excerpt from the Comments. FWIW,,

Joe Smith

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Reply: 7

PostPosted: May 25, 2014 11:07 AM 


Doug Currie: 05/13/2014 09:15 CDT

Are there any of these linaea discovered yet in Gale Crater especially perhaps on the sides of Mount Sharp as it is near the Martian equator. I would be especially interested to know if there are any linaea that Curiosity could investigate. Could any of these linaea have low enough salt concentrations in the brine for some microbes to cope in them?

Bob Ware: 05/15/2014 07:32 CDT

Hi Doug, In the blog April 14, 2014; "Interview with a Mars Explorer" by Bill Dunford I asked a similar class question. The response I received from the scientist Sarah Milkovich, which I pasted here is:

Hi Bob, I don't think we'd drive over to any RSL, even if we were find some at a location that we could get to with the rovers. Spacecraft sent to Mars are cleaned to stricter standards depending on if they will be likely to encounter water ice (let alone liquid water), to avoid biological contamination. There are people thinking right now about what the presence of RSL mean for surface exploration of those locations.
So basically what I am understanding under the current rules, is that if we find it, we steer clear as in giving an RSL a wide clearance zone. Hopefully in the process we don't rove into another one and violate the conditions that Sarah Milkovich was alluding to.

Joe Smith

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PostPosted: May 25, 2014 11:15 AM 

So,,,,, after reading this I must ask,, are we looking at miniature (or baby) (or just starting), Recurring Slope Linage,, here in River City Laughing errr ,I meant Mt Sharp, slopes???

If so, shouldn't we expect to see much more of this as we ascend?

Thank God for the freedom of speech. AND this
Mars Rover Blog

Kye Goodwin

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Reply: 9

PostPosted: May 25, 2014 1:46 PM 

LWS. re your 5, my 4, Yes, Its good that we outsiders should explicitly deny any sort of scientific conspiracy from time to time, as any hint that we are conspiracy theorists is a short cut for those who would like to ignore us as crazies. If a psychiatrist has to decide if I am crazy because I think there is life on Mars, I want that psychiatrist to have to learn a lot of Mars science, and to have to spend hundreds of hours in the rover libraries, if they want to know if I am being rational.

Joe Smith, re your 7, I'm surprised that there are different levels of caution about bio-contamination exercised depending on the specific rover destination. Bacterial spores may well blow around even in Mars' thin wind. I'm also surprised that those rules are based on assumptions about the RSL that are still very controversial. Apparently no one in Mars Science has yet considered the relationship between the big slope streaks and the many similar but smaller slope events at Gale. IMO, they are related by descent. (That statement is funny in two ways, when you think about it.)

I have found one active slope site in a HIRise image that also includes Curi's traverse:


The place I've found is near the south edge of the southern half of the image, about one third of the image from the east edge. There a hill rises on the east side of the widest canyon and on the hill's west slope are two places where an alcove has supplied material to a descending track that has spread out to form fans further down the slope. The tracks are intermittently visible and slightly darker overall than their surroundings. The fans are distinctly brighter than the dark slopes on which they have spread. Overall the tracks and fans make a structure about 100 m long. Further north on the same slope there appear to be older fans, that contrast less with the slope and don't show obvious tracks or alcoves.


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Reply: 10

PostPosted: May 25, 2014 4:28 PM 

Wow, not studying something for fear of contaminating it, can you get more anti science than that? Rolling Eyes

I don't think there is a conspiracy to cover things up. No it's even worse than that: it's dogma. They simply don't want to touch anything that could be life related.


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PostPosted: May 25, 2014 5:03 PM 

I am pretty sure I read years ago that NASA has an old directive from the first days of spaceflight that they must avoid any alien life they encounter. Don't think it was to cover single cell life on Mars, but they could have to follow it even when single cell life is involved.


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PostPosted: May 25, 2014 6:27 PM 

Looking at the images that include the dark sand channel that separates Curi from its main goal of direct Clay spotting in Mt Sharp's foothills, I wonder if those dark sands might be manifestations of ancient RSL's. If so they will have to reimagine the mission.

Anyhow, the new images suggest that we will soon know.


Joe Smith

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Reply: 13

PostPosted: May 26, 2014 11:03 AM 

Basalt (volcanic) sand or RSL or both, or something else?

Pan down and notice filled crater and a isolated large patch(lake?) of the black stuff. Very interesting.

Today is Memorial Day, please remember the veterans who served and died to give us freedom of thought, expression and speech.
Consider this MRB as a fine example.



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Reply: 14

PostPosted: May 27, 2014 8:25 AM 

I posted this on a separate thread here work is underway to see what microbes could survive on a lander and to try and eradicate them as MSL MkII will try and be less of a geologist and a bit more of a biologist.

NASA have not searched for life on Mars since Viking now it is follow the water, study the rocks......yawn.


Joe Smith

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Reply: 15

PostPosted: May 29, 2014 10:56 PM 

225 million km to Mars,, makes for some very
tough bugs. Solar radiation, vacuum, sub-zero temperature.. then heated red hot upon entry.

The first paragraph from the link states.

''' The stowaways withstood spacecraft cleaning methods before the rover's launch, although no one knows for sure whether the bacteria survived the inter-planetary ride.'''

I think the jury is still out on this one.


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Reply: 16

PostPosted: May 30, 2014 6:48 AM 

Apollo 12 brought back to Earth the camera from the Lunar Lander Surveyor 3 and it had Earthly Microbes inside it that survived 3 years on the Moon. I have no idea why this was not bigger news at the time to me just NASA being paranoid about any big talk of life being able to exist anywhere else other than Earth. My theories on this are best kept to myself.
Microbes do not have to withstand the extremes as mentioned in your post Joe as they will be happily tucked up inside the Lander/Rover so they will not fry on entry through the Martian atmosphere or get blasted too heavily by radiation on the surface.


Joe Smith

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Reply: 17

PostPosted: May 30, 2014 10:55 AM 

In November, 1969, the Surveyor 3 spacecraft's microorganisms were recovered from inside its camera that was brought back to Earth under sterile conditions by the Apollo 12 crew.

WELL,,,, I have been proved totally wrong. I guess I must say, 'thank you Kevin',, I think if Ben were still here he might have said, 'we never get to old to learn new things'. My goodness!!!!


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Reply: 18

PostPosted: May 30, 2014 6:49 PM 

Unfortunately the "bugs" found in the camera bought back from the moon was actually contamination from the lab that was doing the testing. see here.
Sorry bout that Kevin & Joe !


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Reply: 19

PostPosted: May 30, 2014 7:15 PM 

The contamination explanation is itself a hypothesis, not a proven fact as reply 18 seems to suggest.



"Countervailing evidence against the secondary contamination hypothesis is the fact that, according to Lieutenant Colonel Fred Mitchell, lead author of the original 1971 paper[4] there was a significant delay before the sampled culture began growing: this is consistent with the sampled bacteria consisting of dormant spores, but not if the sampled culture was the result of fresh contamination. In addition, according to Mitchell, the microbes clung exclusively to the foam during culturing, which would not have happened had there been contamination.[3] Furthermore, if fresh contamination had occurred, millions of individual bacteria and "a representation of the entire microbial population would be expected"; instead, only a few individual bacteria were sampled, and only from a single species.[4]"

Joe Smith

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Reply: 20

PostPosted: May 31, 2014 10:29 AM 

Quote from Kevin's Link:

No other life forms were found in soil samples retrieved by the Apollo missions or by two Soviet unmanned sampling missions, although amino acids - not necessarily of biological origin - were found in soil retrieved by the Apollo astronauts.)

End Quote

Not necessarily of biological origin (above quote)

Can someone explain this to me?

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