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almanis forecast market:
Will extra-terrestrial life be discovered by the end of 2020?

This is not a joke question!! We’re not asking about intelligent life – “take me to your leader” type stuff – we’re asking about evidence of any life, of any form existing or having existed beyond our planet. A confirmed photograph of a fossilised bacterium on a rock on the surface of Mars would suffice. Evidence of ancient respiration within Venus’s atmosphere would prove just as conclusive, in terms of this question, as an alien spaceship landing in Times Square.

This science is happening right now.

You might not have heard of Professor Alfred McEwan of the University of Arizona, but he was speaking on this subject yesterday at the international Starmus astronomy conference. He is a global leader in the field of planetary geology and the principal investigator on NASA’s HiRISE telescope which is currently orbiting Mars taking some very detailed photos of the Martian surface.

Yesterday, as reported by The Times, he was very warm on the possibility of life on Mars. This really isn’t my field at all, so I’m just going to let the Professor’s words speak for themselves:

“There has almost certainly been exchange of biota [life] between Earth and Mars. Mars isn’t very far away: Martian rocks from impacts can easily reach Earth; probably Earth rocks also reached Mars from impacts in the past.

Life began on this planet about four billion years ago when there were lots of big-impact events. And bacteria are highly tolerant to extremes of desiccation, UV and IR [ultraviolet and heat] radiation, and to high shock levels. So micro-organisms or spores could survive a trip between Earth and Mars.

This raises the question: did life arise on Earth and get transported to Mars, or was it the other way round? I think life was probably present on Mars from this exchange, and probably persists underground today.”

 

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