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No. 74: Mar-Apr 1991

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Gaia on mars?

H.L. Helfer, University of Rochester, noting the absence of extensive cratering on the northern plains of Mars, suggests that some 2-3.5 billion years ago these plains were covered with oceans. These ancient seas, perhaps as much as 700 meters deep, protected the plains from direct impacts. Further, crater density counts for Chryse and the Martian highlands imply that Mars possessed a fairly dense atmosphere until about 1.5 billion years ago. In his Abstract Helfer speculates as follows:

"With both early Earth and early Mars having similar atmospheric compositions and not too dissimilar atmospheric structures, it is reasonable to suppose that the warm Martian oceans, like the ancient oceans of Earth, would develop anerobic and aerobic photosynthesizing prokaryotes and structures like stromatolites. Their development might have changed the Martian atmosphere. Their fossils might be found along the fringes of the old oceans, the northern lowland plains."

(Helfer, H.L.; "Of Martian Atmospheres, Oceans, and Fossils," Icarus, 87:228, 1990.)

Comment. The Gaia influence is seen in the molding of the Martian atmosphere into something more conducive to the development of life. One can also speculate that, if life did develop on Mars, it could have seeded the earth via bits of debris blasted off by meteorite impacts. Several meteorites picked up in Antarctica are thought to have come from Mars originally.

Reference. Data suggesting Martian life are cataloged in AME14 in The Moon and the Planets. For ordering information, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #74, MAR-APR 1991. 1991-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:

Quotes

  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987