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Re: Thoughts on Bio Contamination
> Imagine an alga-like organism that mutates easily to adapt to rapidly
> changing conditions on Mars. It uses a very dark green, almost black
> chlorophyl like substance to produce food from carbon dioxide, minerals,
> small amounts of water and weak sunlight. Because of the weaker
> sunlight, it uses the higher end of the spectrum, into the violets and
> ultraviolet. Reproduction is by airborne spores as wind is the only
> transport mechanism available to it. Essentially a very hardy organism
> that is kept in check by a low resource availability.
Our atmosphere is thinker than that of Mars. Light would be less
plentiful in the portion of the spectrum to which the hypothetical algae
is used to. This would likely retard the growth.
Our planet has very much water, in relation to Mars. You know what
happens when you take an Earth plant or lichen out of the desert and put
it in a rain forest, right? At best, it will live but it won't thrive in
any sense of the word.
Another point is that algae on Mars will likely have to extract
chemicals from the regolith, which is chemically different that what we
have here on Earth. Generally, the algae you bring here will be deprived
of essential nutrients required for its survival.
Life on Mars probably would use spores to reproduce, and as Gene said,
would probably be carried by wind. Therefore, Martian lifeforms would be
timed on the dust-storm cycles of Mars. On Earth, these patterns would
be nonexistant, and it would make things just that much more difficult
for the Martians.
Our atmosphere has the CO2 they would need, but in different proportions
to what it needs to survive. Again, life is made hard. Also, keep in
mind that the optimum temperature for these creatures would be found
only in the Antarctic.
Finally, any life on Mars would have a hard time here because life on
Mars would go sloow compared to the life cycles of Earth. I base this on
the assumption that plants would have extreme difficulty in collecting
water. The only way I can consider a single-celled life form surviving
on the surface is either inside or underneath rocks, where minute
amounts of moisture are available and they are sheltered from the
extreme UV light. They also need to stay away from the regolith because
it is rich with peroxides. In short, a great way to sterilize something
is to dump Martian dust on it! Now, the prime thing for any life on Mars
is water. This means that since you can't live without water, you go
into crytobiosis for a thousand years until a drop of water is
available. This all means that life on Mars would be most comfortable on
Earth in the Arctic, the Atacama Desert, and places like that. They
would fit under the category of extremophiles, and they would do like
the ancient bacteria of Earth do today: retreat to the environment where
they fill comfortable. This means that they go where nothing else can
I suggest that water in Earthly quantities is a very very bad thing for
Martian life. Spores would absorb all the water they could, perhaps even
to the point they cannot survive. If they did, they would grow extremely
slowly, most would probably rot too fast to sprout.
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