Thursday, 10 March 2011

How Might We Discover We Are Not Alone? Part 3 – Something Small

Microbes and Worms
Possible Martian microbial life?
One possibility for the discovery of alien life, that is considered the most likely by many people, is that of microbial or at least small-scale life.

How might we find it? There are a few select ways. We might discover a fossilised sample in a meteor fragment from another planet, that has arrived on Earth itself. This possibility almost happened in 1996 (Click here to read more on the NASA website), when tiny worm-like shapes were found in what is thought to be a sample of Martian meteorite. However, the question of contaminated samples soon arose, as well as the suggestion that the shapes could have occurred through natural processes. New techniques recently put to use, suggest the existence of chemicals which could indicate the signature of life, thus strengthening the case for the worm-like shapes once again.

3D representation of a Mars Rover
Keeping with Mars, perhaps one of the Rovers or other probes might find something. Science Fiction especially, tends to jump toward Mars as the most likely suspect due to its historic expectations, but there are still good reasons to consider it. Mars is the only extraterrestrial planet on which we have regularly operating probes at ground level searching out new material. If the discovery is a small one, it is very possible that the Rovers would be the first suspects to find it. If they do find anything, chances are it would be a simple microbial life-form. But wouldn't it be fun if they caught a tiny Martian insect on camera? Perhaps they may find a simple moss-like substance on a rock, or even photograph a fossil fragment.

It seems unlikely that'll we'll find something like this anywhere else, though. We just haven't been sending out enough probes to the other planets and their moons, with the ability to investigate at this level. There have been a few others with potential, though.

Other Places
The surface of Titan
It's possible that recent spacecraft such as the Japanese Hayabusa probe that collected particles from the Itokawa asteroid, might find something. Perhaps some of the key chemical building blocks of life or even fossilised microbial samples may be discovered in its captured particles. The only other possibility that I can think of, is the Cassini-Huygens probe that landed on Titan, one of Saturn's moons. Further analysis of the photos and data it sent back may provide new evidence, but it seems unlikely, given the landing occurred some time ago.

The drawback with a discovery of this nature, is that it still leaves a lot of the doors open. For those interested in the subject of alien life, it would be of enormous import. It is a discovery that would make the headlines, and alter our perspective on the likelihood of life having evolved elsewhere in the universe. Unfortunately, it wouldn't make much difference to the everyday populace. The world would go on as normal. Proof of intelligent life is what will make the big change.

Next, we shall discuss 'Remnants And Artefacts'

Click here for:
Part 1 - Equations and Paradoxes
Part 2 - Signals from Beyond
Part 3 - Something Small
Part 4 - Remnants and Arefacts

Image Credit: NASA -
Some text modified from my previous article 'NASA Announcement - Possible Proof of Life Out There?'

All work is the © copyright of W.D.Lee and/or the respective companies, individuals or organisations to which the work is related. No infringement is intentional. No reproduction or copying is permitted without express permission.

No comments:

Post a Comment