Phoenix digs Mars for real and “Hairy Blobs”?

With two test digs under its belt, NASA’s Phoenix lander is now ready to do some real science.

The spacecraft might take its first sample of Martian soil for analysis on Thursday from a site dubbed “Baby Bear” (scroll down for image). The sample was supposed to be taken on Wednesday, but NASA said that NASA’s Odyssey orbiter, which relays Phoenix data to and from Earth, had entered a “safe mode,” preventing Wednesday’s instructions from reaching the lander.

Phoenix scientists are excited for the soil collection to begin. “We’re ready to start interacting with the surface,” said chief scientist Peter Smith of the University of Arizona. “This is where it’s absolutely making me so happy.”

Finally, a real dig. What will it reveal? Maybe something like this. Drum roll please…..

At last, scientists have discovered a form of life that could have evolved on Mars. Geologists unearthed a treasure trove of fossilized remains in a salty, acidic lake in remote Australia — the creatures, probably about 250 million years old, were, according to New Scientist, “made up of a mix of inorganic crystals and ‘hairs’ stuck together in a mass” (pictured). The lake where they lived was filled with water whose extreme levels of salinity and acidity are a near-match for Martian water. Find out more, plus see more cool pictures of the blobs, below.

According to New Scientist:

Kathleen Benison, a geologist at Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, led a team that studied the sediments formed by acidic and very salty lakes in modern day Western Australia, and those deposited around 250 million years ago in North Dakota. It is very difficult to survive in such a tough environments and few signs of life have ever been found in these sorts of lakes.

Inside the halite and gypsum “evaporate” minerals, which form as the lake waters dry up, Benison and colleagues found previously unknown fossilised blobs at both the modern and ancient sites, ranging in size from 0.05 to 1.5 millimetres. They were made up of a mix of inorganic crystals and “hairs” stuck together in a mass (pictured). They named them hairy blobs.

The team argues that each hair was in fact a separate microorganism because the hair fossils are made of disordered graphite which, unlike inorganic graphite, has irregular layers that suggest it was once a live organism..

Many of the hairs are coated with crystals of gypsum, a calcium sulphate mineral. This link with gypsum suggests that the microorganisms were fuelled by chemical interactions with sulphur in the acidic water – which helped the gypsum to form.

Being my cynical, ornery, doubting Thomas self however, I’m not holding my breath for the simple fact that we’ve been disappointed so many times before.

But when you shoot craps, sometimes you do come up with a seven or eleven!

Phoenix Mars lander set for first science dig

“Hairy Blobs” Discovered in Acidic Lake Could’ve Evolved on Mars

5 responses

  1. The Highwayman | Reply

    Well, if you’re cynical and ornery, I’m the king, baby! I’m not even sold on the idea that thing is on Mars!

    Now, if the laughter from all of your guests has died down, I’ll explain why I think this way…

    The Apollo controversy aside, I’ll hit this from a philosophical angle. Mars is how many millions of miles away, right? Imagine trying to control a robot from simply a mile away… imagine even trying to SEE it! One million is a BIG number! A mile is a long way, when you have to walk it! We’re talking millions of these miles, and taking into account the time interval for radio signals to traverse the distance, and the unseen obstacles between here and there, and the clumsiness of anything man-made… look at how our crappy cars and machinery break down… has anyone REALLY considered the immensity of all of this? The probability for it NOT to be possible?

    We just take everything we’re told for granted. We doubt the government looks after our best interests in other ways, but all of that doubt goes out the window when other elitist-controlled agencies tell us a story. Is there an inconsistency, here? Doubting an elitist-controlled administration to govern in an economical and socially responsible way, and then suddenly taking their science as gospel… isn’t that the same as considering someone just a LITTLE pregnant? You either ARE trustworthy, or you’re not!

    I look at a star… a pinpoint of light, somewhere out there, in a place where none of us has ever been, before, and scientists tell us things about them as if they had actually been there! Pick any star out of the lineup you wish… look at it! It’s a blip! How do you tell how far it is away, from a blip? It’s construction… it’s chemical properties… all from a blip? And they laugh at palm-readers!

    The Earth… supposedly BILLIONS of years old. Does anyone here realize how big a number ONE BILLION is? Look at the shape that carefully-prepared mummies are in after a paltry 4000 years, compared with the millions of years we’re supposed to swallow for the remains of dinosaurs and early man. I wonder… does anyone really consider the scope of these numbers?

    Look at Hollywood… is anything impossible for Hollywood? Look at the sheeple… is anything more gullible?

    I rest my case… *hic*

  2. The Highwayman | Reply

    I think the whole thing is a production of Twentieth Century Faux!


    *empty whiskey bottle falls to floor*


  3. I think the whole thing is a production of Twentieth Century Faux!

    LOL HW! You’re the ultimate tinfoiler/conspiracy nut! Worse than I even thought of being! 😉

    Not only do I think that thing’s on Mars, our military has secret bases there! NASA’s only the cheap covering!

    How’s that for tinfoil! 8)

  4. The Highwayman | Reply

    Yo, flat-topped one…

    I removeth mine shoes, for I standeth on holy ground!


  5. […] to Dad2059’s Blog for the above, “Hairy Blobs”, […]

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