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Re: Martian Contamination

>I am not an exobiologist--and aside from conjuring up well-adpated
>sci-fi Martian creatures with triple eye lids, biothermal mechanisms,
>and radiation-hardened protective shells--I just can't imagine any life
>"as we know it" surviving on Mars today.  The intense rain of UV
>radiation would be an insurmountable challenge to even the most
>primitive lifeform.  

Life as we know it would not survive on the surface of Mars due
to the UV exposure.  However, it is possible that life on Mars may
have evolved a protective shell that protects itself from the UV
radiation.  A more likely scenario is that life on Mars exists
underground, and thus not exposed to UV radiation.  We know
bacteria can live underground in the Earth.  Also, water can provide
protection from UV radiation.  We know that at one time Mars had
liquid water on its surface, and it is possible life formed in
the Martian lakes and oceans long ago.  We also know that Mars had
a thicker atmosphere in its distant past, which may have provided
protection from the UV.  Life could of started intially in this
environment, and then as the water went away and the atmosphere
became thinner, life could of evolved or moved underground.  

>In 1988 or 1989, biologist Debbie Moll of the University of Cincinnati
>successfully observed a species of terrestrial soil virus surviving--in
>a dessicated, suspended state and not in a vibrant, self-reproducing
>state--in a lab "Mars Jar" filled with a Wyoming smectite clay analog.
>But when the University announced the finding you realized that a key
>factor was missing--intense UV radiation! 

Again, if life on Mars lives underground, then UV radiation is not
a factor.

Ron Baalke

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