What’s Wrong with NASA: Evidences of Life on Saturn’s Moon Enceladus?

By J.P. Skipper

This is my first report for what I suspect will be a landmark year 2012 in this field. Remember that by the end of this year (December) the old is suppose to come to an end and something new begins for Earth, at least as far as the ancient Mayan calendar and various prophets with decent track records are concerned. I can’t say for sure on that but during the meantime, just in case I’m going to get a little more speculative in some of my reporting where I think it is appropriate and it starts with this report.

The above 1st black and white image was taken by the Cassini spacecraft of the southern region of Saturn’s moon Enceladus that periodically sprays out jets or plumes of heated water that quickly freezes to ice in space as you see it doing here. Enceladus is a moon in Saturn’s rings. The current science thinking is that Saturn’s rings are made up of water ice and rock debris of all different sizes as well as a number of moons and dwarf planets held in orbit by huge Saturn’s tremendous gravity well.

The official thinking is that a comet of water ice plowed into Saturn’s orbit some time in the ancient past and, before busting up completely, it may have impacted one or more of Saturn’s moons and/or asteroids in that ancient time generating the rings full of rock debris and water ice held in orbit by Saturn’s tremendous gravity. Enceladus is only the sixth largest of Saturn’s moons with a diameter of 500 km or 310 miles and only 10% the size of the largest moon Titan.

Despite its smaller size, Enceladus is one of the brightest objects in our sky. The thinking on the reason for that is that Enceladus’ surface appears to be made up of a lot of water ice that is of course white in color and highly reflective in sunlight. It should be noted that this moon is located in the densest part of Saturn’s relatively diffuse “E” ring. There is speculation that Enceladus’ water ice outpouring is responsible for much of the density of the “E” ring. Do remember that piece of information because it will become increasingly more important in this reporting.

Note in the above 1st image that the main water jets or plumes appear to stretch in ragged lines of subtle brightness from the lighted edge areas of Enceladus back into the darker areas of the moon’s surface. This suggests that the strongest sprays do indeed come from fissures or cracks in the surface there in this southern region.

The official text in the NASA Photojournal notes that the above image is a mosaic created from two Cassini raw images. The current science thinking is that these are heated water/ice jets originating from deeper down below Enceladus’ surface spraying through fissures in the surface and then quickly freezing to ice in open space. Sounds reasonable doesn’t it.

Most of these fissures are located in the so called “Tiger Stripes” area at Enceladus’ south polar region. These tiger stripes are nothing more than visible fissures (cracks) and, as you can see, the above jet evidence in the darker area tends to support this theory. Now let’s take a closer look at these water venting fissure or tiger stripe sites in the next two images below.

Tiger stripe fissures in Southern pole( http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA06247)

The above 2nd image is a NASA Photojournal PIA06247 shot taken on 7/14/2005 of a large portion of Enceladus’ south polar region and the tiger stripe features area. The official text says that this image is 1,024 pixels wide and that the image scale is 122 meters or 400 feet per pixel. You do the math if you would like to arrive at the scale.

Meanwhile, please note that despite the wide area view, there are no impact craters in the above scene, only ridges, topography buckling, and fissures. Remember that Enceladus is in Saturn’s rings that might generate a bunch of rock missiles, so this tells us that this terrain is relatively young and fairly recently formed even if it isn’t currently jetting water. That suggests that this terrain is mostly water ice that forms into a self leveling liquid or semi-liquid frozen soil mixed mud and then refreezes back eventually into the newer terrain patterns you see here.

 http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/multimedia/pia11127.html

The above 3rd image is a much closer Cassini PIA11127 shot taken on 10/31/2008 over 3 years later. It provides a closer view of the same type of topography in the south polar or tiger stripe region.

As you can see, this is some seriously rough topography but again no impact craters in it. In theory the largest fissures or canyons you see there are the source of water/ice jets. Remember now that the current prevailing science theory is that deeper underground water periodically heats up due to Saturn’s tremendous gravitational influence and expands upward and spewing out into space via the jets or plumes through these largest fissures where it quickly freezes into ice particles and becomes part of Saturn’s diffuse E-ring.

That science speculation tends to suggest that what we are looking at here in the 3rd image may be at least in part soil and rock geology over a subterranean water base and the largest fissures are the escape valves area for the heated rising water as it takes the path of least resistance upward through the largest deep fissures. Again the above 3rd image tends to support this theory. However, now take a look at next two images below and their newer 2010 evidence?

Waves radiating from many central points suggesting liquid surface( http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/raw/rawimagedetails/index.cfm?imageID=228082)

The above 4th and 5th images are the best of their kind and based on the Cassini raw W00065512 image taken more recently on 9/22/2010 of Saturn’s moon Enceladus’ surface. The 4th image is of the general scene at 100% of the original and the 5th image is of the darker lower left quadrant of the general image blown up 200% of the original. The distance is suppose to be 248,565 km or 154,450 miles from the Cassini spacecraft to Enceladus here but it appears to me to be a whole lot closer than that. Further, there appears to have been some manipulation of this W00065512 image.

For example, the original official raw image strip the above 4th and 5th images are drawn from is physically taller and deeper down than the 4th and 5th images I am showing here. I’ve cropped out that bottom dark area because there is nothing in it to see other than dark blankness. One might think that it’s space but it isn’t, it’s just blank substitution.

Because of that, one might think that the W00065512 image view catches the outer edge of Enceladus but that isn’t the case either. I suspect something may have been there in the closer shot in the bottom area of the strip between Enceladus and the Cassini camera that has been removed by basically removing everything in that bottom area of the strip. In my imaging here I’ve left just a little of this at the bottom of both of the above 4th and 5th images for you to see.

Likewise, note the tiny bright specks in the bottom area of the above blown up 200% 5th image. Those bright specks are important. If you saw these bright specks against a dark space background (and you will see that in other images below) rather than against a small world, you would naturally assume that they are stars but most of them aren’t. The tip off is that all of these kind of “stars” are the same size and light intensity. In the case of the Cassini probe, such specks are for the most part residual empty pixels where something has been removed from the image. The proof is that when the image is blown up and enough contrast is added, a collection of image artifacts clustering around these specks revealing this truth can be seen. Tricky isn’t it.

I’m going to suggest that what we are looking at in the above 4th and 5th images is that rough Enceladus terrain in the 2nd and 3rd images being melted into a self leveling fluid soil nd water slurry mixture and each of those different size spots with apparent wave rings radiating out from the center of each one are bubbles of various sizes formed by heated water below rising to the surface in preparation of the next coming water jet event.

It’s similar to water just beginning to boil in a pot of soil and water mixture otherwise known as mud. Note that the fluid is not pouring out from fissures here but heating up from below and melting the entire surface area. This suggests that there may be no hard land surface here at all, just a water/soil mud like consistency on the surface just beginning in more advanced stages to do its water jet/plume thing shortly as would mud if over heated in a pot.

So we’ve learned something about Enceladus’ geology in that regard thanks to the Cassini imaging. However, let’s get back to those tiny bright specks that are in my opinion where some objects have been digitally extracted from the scene.

Note that they are between us and the Enceladus surface, so they can’t be claimed to be stars in space, although they could be claimed to be reflective rocks or ice masses within Saturn’s rings. If so, then why would someone go to all the trouble and expense to remove evidence that isn’t really anomalous? I suspect and speculate that this actually closer view of the Enceladus surface was included in the official record to record this very important and informative geological jetting event starting to unfold for the scientists. However, in doing so, the closer view also revealed objects on a closer larger scale between Enceladus and the Cassini camera with enough resolution to reveal what they may really be and that it is LIFE.

Objects that someone doesn’t want us or the scientists in general and especially those involved in the Cassini mission to know about. No I’m not talking about space ship objects here, it is actually more incredible than that. What I am talking about is biological life itself. Biological life that can live in space but which often remains within range of these Enceladus jetting events and/or within at least the “E” ring of Saturn and its diffuse E-ring water ice resource.

Life that can gather and retain water ice within itself in the rings both as a resource in supporting organic life and to provide self generated power for that life. Further, it also shares some similarities to the bioluminescence organism life in the deepest darkest part of our Earth oceans where bioluminescence in the intense darkness comes in very handy. An adaptation that it shares for the same reasons in the blackness of space. In other words, where there is a need, life often finds a way.

I suspect it is herding or more appropriately schooling space life that is beginning to congregate above and getting ready to take advantage of the upcoming Enceladus water jet resource event shown just beginning to form in the 4th and 5th images here. Life such as that in the following images.

I suspect the only reason that this W00065512 image made it into the official record is because it is geologically important as to the water jets and because cropping off the bottom of the image did away with views too close of denser and more recognizable concentrations of this life against the Enceladus background and the few objects still left in the image shown could be removed individually without drawing much attention to this obfuscation tactic.

The above 6th and 7th images are two separate Cassini N00164016 and N00164015 raw images, both taken on 10/4/2010, that demonstrates these objects against against a space background. Although they are from two separate images, note that one is closer than the other. Also note that they are both of the same scene but with subtle differences. For example, note that the orientation of the objects is the reverse of each other and there has also been some subtle changes changes in the background.

Please also note that this change in orientation is not the result of a flipping of the image, only a change limited to the object’s and their orientation. All of these factors combine as evidence strongly suggesting that these objects are real and not imaging artifacts of any kind. Now note in this 7th image the closer view all those “stars” in the background. Note how many there are and their general uniformity in size and light intensity quite contrary to natural stars that would be of different sizes and intensity.

Not quite all but most of this evidence is not stars at all but the empty pixels where something has been extracted from the image during processing. Now if that is true, think now many there are of what ever has been removed from this scene. Despite their more distant appearance due to their smaller size, I suspect that these empty pixels represent closer to the camera views of these same objects that might have provided a stronger recognition factor raising the suspicion even among conformity influenced scientists that they may be looking at life here and opening that door in their thinking.

However, there are yet other factors to consider. For example, note the uniformity of size and length of the objects that we can still see here even after the obfuscation work. This level of uniformity is typical of life all deriving from the same genetic code building blocks. At the same time, this is not typical of rock and soil or ice mass geology in Saturn’s rings. For example, it is well known that the rings are made up of particles from the size of mere specks to the size of large homes and larger. That kind of variance is not represented here in these anomalous bright objects.

Water is without a doubt the enabling factor here both in the form of liquid and ice. Consider this, water is a combination of H20. Both hydrogen and oxygen individually or together can be used as sources of power not to mention constituting the body fluids of living tissue. It is within the realm of reason that some life forms originating in a water environment originally could over time evolve and develop into self propelling their way via expenditure of that power in nearby space and through out Saturn’s rings harvesting water ice in the thinner material as they go and those within range returning to these great Enceladus liquid water jetting events cruising through the water plumes to take on larger more satisfying loads.

It is also within reason that such creatures starting out life in water depths without sunlight and in complete darkness under an mud top surface frozen cover would likely develop bioluminescence in order to communicate with others of its kind, find mates, compensate for freezing space conditions, and deal with predators just as we see in the deepest darkest parts of our Earth oceans. As they evolve to live out of the water, they just exchange one form of swimming for another.

The above 8th image is drawn from yet another Cassini N00163969 raw image. I’ve included it here just so that you can see more evidence of the objects against a space only background and to demonstrate that this kind of evidence is typical in the Cassini imaging near Enceladus and within Saturn’s rings. Note once again the objects and their different light producing effect from object to object. Note also the great many “stars” in the background that, if they are life extracted from the scene, may be evidence of immense schools of these creatures and just how numerous they really are in “empty” space.

The above 9th image is just a section of the 8th image blown up 400% to demonstrate the “stars” in the background. Although you can also see the dimmer always present noise artifacts in this background, note how the brighter “artifacts” cluster around the “stars” that are actually empty pixels left behind when something was extracted from the image at these many points. Now look back at the 7th, 8th and 9th (below) images and think about how numerous these are. This is what happens when a location in a digital image is disturbed by subsequent spot specific manipulation.

The above 10th image evidence is drawn from yet another Cassini N00163126 raw image. I believe that it demonstrates the objects straightened out and underway all in the same direction like a school of fish. Again, note that some are generating an inner light source and some are not. I believe that objects with a slight curve to them represents objects generally at rest even though they may or may not be completely stopped.

I suspect that objects straightened out as you see above indicates exerting power and underway. This factor implies that these objects are likely organic in their composition so typical of life. It also implies that they can change their shape to some extent.

The above final 11th image is a scene taken of Enceladus during a water jet event backlit by the Sun. It demonstrates a couple of things. First, it demonstrates the full extent of expansion into space of the water geyser event from the south polar region not adequately shown by the raw black and white imaging and just how extensive a deal it really is. Second, it shows the objects pointed out with the yellow arrows. Note that all of these are straightened out and likely underway going through this water plume event tending to back up my own speculations.

I know that all of this is a lot for some of you to take in including even some of you with more open minds. After all, how can something alive exist in the emptiness even vacuum of space?

The fact is that I first brought this possibility to you attention in my 2009 Report #170 because of the visual evidence. If this is truly life, then its behavior suggests an aquatic schooling origin like schooling fish and Enceladus may even be its ancestral home. Some of the visual evidence suggests even more complexity in that this life may be a cooperative schooling form that can also join with others of its kind cooperatively and change its over all visual appearance in the process.

Life in space, despite the human preconception against it, is not a new way out idea. For example, there is NASA’s own STS-75 The Tether incident where an electro dynamic tether to generate power in space experiment was deployed in space where nothing by conventional thinking should be able to live. Yet the tether broke off via an unexpected power surge and still producing power began to be surrounded by swarming “some things” that clearly appeared to be disc shaped living objects.

You could tell that the astronauts were stunned and initially at a loss for words just watching the swarming. When mission ground control broke in and asked what these things were, the reporting astronaut tried to pass it off as debris coming off of the spacecraft even though these large objects were at least 77 miles away and in movement behind the tether from the spacecraft camera. In other words, the objects were likely bigger than the spacecraft itself and could not possibly be “debris.”

In my opinion, the only thing that is hard to believe about this incident is the completely foolish human explanation with more obvious holes in it than a big hunk of swiss cheese. If the tether principle was really abandoned by NASA, it is more likely because its radiating power attracted too many life forms feeding on that power with unknown consequences.

Some and especially the most innocent scientists will no doubt scoff at this as the most ridiculous kind of speculation pointing out that the great majority of the science communities would love to make scientific history by discovering life on other worlds including even in space and that there is no chance that they would deny it to public consumption. Further, I would even agree with most of that in general.

However, what they are failing in their naivety to take into consideration is that space, UFOs, and alien research and exploration is also big business here on Earth building vast fortunes empowering those that have ascended to oligarchy world control status. They police their own and to fall from such exalted heights is too much of a horror for them to contemplate. Most in government and science are but mere employees of oligarchy choosing. Worse, they own all the most important communication pathways like the major media and they in a round about way control most of the military including military and civilian intelligence communities.

For example, if someone under their influence (and who isn’t) gets hold of an alien craft as crap happens for aliens just as it does for us. The technological gains that are its potential equates directly to world wide military advantage, money, and power. The same if someone under their influence gets hold of an alien or aliens or just negotiates in secret with them. For them, it’s all about wealth, power, and control and everything to that end is expedient.

As they see it, the double edge of the sword is that on one edge aliens and their advanced technology exists with its power potential drawing them with their focus on self like mindless flies to honey. Yet, on the other edge, is the potential for interference from populations that tend to be more idealistic and want to argue about right and wrong for all concerned. What the science community doesn’t seem to understand is that idealism and altruism are regarded by oligarchy as completely unrealistic and foolish and a waste of their time.

What the oligarchy knows is that admitting to any kind of life beyond the confines of Earth or for that matter intelligent alien life here on Earth, leads to an opening of the mind and what it will consider next. It’s like you can’t be just a little bit pregnant, you either are or you aren’t. Right now denial among populations and the science communities is the norm and the oligarchy has worked long and hard at considerable expense to create this prevalent social condition. They don’t want to abandon it because it will ultimately mean interference with what they do within the protection of secrecy as too many others not under their control start to become involved.

Yet, the very technology advantage that has been such a primary mover in making them, is also undermining them. As greater and greater communication among populations advances, the secrecy that shields the oligarchy is also undermined and is looking at collapse. Their own AI super computer modeling, assuming they are feeding it objective material, without a doubt predicts this. We out here in the populations are right on the cusp of this happening in our time.

So Mr. scientist they are running scared and they will try to prevent as long as possible that knowledge door from opening within you and you beginning to wake up. Meanwhile they are trying to figure out a way to survive what is coming and preserve their exalted positions of power. So they keep you and your work confined and compartmentalized so that you can’t see the true big picture. For the few that this doesn’t work on, they create a false big picture for you to focus on while the real picture remains solely out of your sight and within their control.

The bottom line is that their proven success formula historically requires secrecy as well as your and our ignorance. Unless they can develop a different successful formula that they can be willing to try in their self isolation, they can’t afford for you or I to wake up and open the door to idealistic interference problems for them. The trouble from their point of view is that the admission of water in what we would consider normal conditions on the surface of a world leads to the consideration of biological life on that surface and that in turn of course leads to the consideration of intelligent and even advanced life and of course we aren’t ignorant and in their control any more.

I know that many of you on all sides don’t want to face this but we’re now long past the point of no return and it’s too late to clamp down or turn back the tide now. The collapse of most of this particular brand of secrecy on our world is immanent and the general science and population ignorance so long entrenched is going to fall away with it. The level of technological advancement guarantees it. The key is to adapt now or suffer the consequences.

Joseph P. Skipper

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Living in A Simulation

By Rob Braynton

The above new video accompanies my blog entry from last August, on the subject of Simulism: the idea that we could be living within a gigantic virtual world, whether we are aware of it or not. Simulism.org is a wiki created by the Netherlands’ Ivo Jansch, and it brings together a number of interesting bits of information about (to quote from the wiki) “the possibility that our existence rests on an unimaginably complex n-dimensional k-state computer grid with rules governing the transition from one state to another”.

In my previous post on Simulism and the above video blog, I talk about several other shows which have showed Simulism-related concepts, including The Matrix, Inception, Star Trek: TNG’s holodeck, and a television show I had not come across before called Play. The Moviespage at the simulism wiki lists a number of other films, most of which are obviously science fiction. But I couldn’t resist adding a few of my favorite films to the list because (in my opinion) they present related concepts:

A Christmas Carol – could this 1843 Charles Dickens novella be the grand-daddy of Simulism? The ghosts conjure virtual worlds of time travel and alternate timelines that to Ebenezer Scrooge are completely real.

It’s a Wonderful Life – when George Bailey is shown an alternate version of the world as it would have been without him, can’t this be thought of as a simulation?

Groundhog Day – being trapped at a certain instant of time (6 am on Groundhog Day), and then being given the freedom to explore all the possible timelines that extend from that instant: is Phil Conners trapped in a simulation? The movie offers no explanation so we are left to imagine what could have been the cause of his predicament.

Brazil – since so much of this film is surreal, placed “somewhere in the twentieth century” according to the opening subtitle, it’s possible that the entire film is a virtual world, a simulation. Could Sam Lowry have woken up from the dream, Neo-style, at any moment in this movie? Since the world depicted in this film is unlike any version of the twentieth century you or I experienced, there are other “alternate history” discussions that could just as easily be related to this film, one of my all-time favorites.

The wikipedia article on alternate history presents some examples of stories exploring the “what would have the world been like if this rather than that had happened” as far back as two thousand years ago: ideas of parallel universe versions of our own observed universe are not as new as you might suspect! And if Information Equals Reality, then all of these examples of simulism, alternate histories, and parallel universes may not just be flights of imagination, but examples of the possibilities inherent in the underlying structures of our reality.

Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton.

Antarctica Mysteries[Part-II]: Haswell Island

By J. P. Skipper

So why am I reporting on evidence right here on Earth? In doing so I’m trying to show you via hard verifiable visual evidence that you need to pay attention to the reality that even planetary issues we all thought were long settled as much as decades and generations ago right here on Earth itself have also not been accurate. In fact, we may have been sold a secrecy bill of goods all over the place as the few benefit from the long conditioned ignorance of the many for control purposes and that this corrupts the very heart of our world and its populations. Sorry if this intrudes where some do not wish to go but there it is.

Meanwhile, the above 1st and 2nd images show the location of the evidence general site in this report as well as relative to the location of the evidence in the previous Report #195. As you can see, the sites are relatively nearby each other. In this report, the location is also the site of the originally Russian Mirny Station at the Davis sea coast. That in turn is supposed to be the coastal staging point for supplying the Russian Vostok Station located deep in the interior of the Antarctic continent some 1400 km from the coast.

Vostok Station is located near the South Geomagnetic Pole at the center of the deep East Antarctic Ice Sheet with the theory that this makes it an optimal place to observe changes in the Earth’s magnetic sphere. Vostok Station is 11,444 feet or 3,488 meters above sea level and is the most isolated established research station on the Antarctic continent with a small contingent of now multinational scientists. Deep under Vostok Station and under very deep ice is Vostok Lake.

Russian Vostok Station was established in 1957 while Mirny Station was established the year before in 1956. Both were established about 10 years or so after the USA secretive military Antarctic expedition in force (Operation Highjump) to Antarctica in 1946-47 right after WWII. Some believe that the true purpose of the military force was chasing after escaping Nazi forces while others also bring aliens into the issue, both officially denied. You should know that the general area where Mirny Station is located was also first discovered in 1902 by the German Gauss Expedition and named Kaiser Wilhelm II Land suggesting at the least some German early knowledge of the area dating back to that time before WWI and WWII.

This reporting will briefly examine the Russian Mirny Station area out on the ice and in some low rocks near larger more elevated Haswell Island as well as some suggestive anomalous evidence at Haswell Island itself. You’ll be the judge as to whether that poor resolution visual evidence may suggest civilization evidence and why Mirny Station was at some later point moved inland off the bare ice sheet but apparently avoided moving onto Haswell Island even though it has more elevated rocky mostly ice free terrain complete with fresh water in a liquid state and strangely bypassing it to settle beyond it on the more difficult ice terrain.

The above 3rd and 4th still distant view images zero in on the general evidence site closer with the 4th image identifying the evidence scattered over a wide area. Now remember that some of the visual evidence is just of Mirny Station with nothing especially anomalous about it. I’ve included this kind of evidence here so that you know that the evidence I will point out as being anomalous is not to be confused with the not particularly anomalous Mirny Station evidence and where the anomalous evidence is located relative to Mirny Station.

For example, note that long line that is an ice breaker trail passing to the left of Haswell Island with the ice breaker ship in the trail? There is nothing particularly anomalous about it until it gets to the very top of the image where the trail doesn’t stop so much as it disappears underneath a heavy application of dense smudge image tampering at the coast. Note that near the bottom of the image and to the left of the ice breaker trail is a rocky island with multiple old round likely fuel tanks isolated on it. On the lower right of the ice breaker trail is the Mirny Station sites complete with structures dating back to the days of the USSR as well as signs of ground activity. Note that they are located inland bypassing Haswell Island which is between the Davis Sea coast and the station.

The most anomalous evidence is at Haswell Island itself identified by the red arrows. One has to wonder why this nearby larger essentially iceless rocky island complete with what appears to be green tinted fresh water on it in an unfrozen liquid state was passed by and not eventually settled as the most climate friendly main station site? Could it be that there are things there that preclude such a settlement? You be the judge as the evidence unfolds below here in this report. Be forewarned that most of this anomalous evidence is compromised by poor visual quality due to being at the limit of resolution as well as a lot of image tampering treatments.

As you can see in the above 5th and 6th images, an ice breaker ship has created a trail or path through the ice field from the coast to a point inland just beyond Haswell Island. The ship appears to have turned around and is now exiting back down its own trail toward the coast which area is hidden under smudge treatments.

Note that the trail as seen lower in the 4th image passes between the small rocky island with the large round tanks on it on the left and the active location of Mirny Station on the right. It is assumed that the tanks have likely served as longer term fuel storage mostly for any ships including the ice breaker using the created channel through the ice field and their isolated location on the small rocky island is an isolation safety factor.

On the other hand, why be so secretive in using the smudge obfuscation field at the top of the image to hide that portion of the ice breaker trail where it obviously has to exist at the coastal area? What is it there at the coastal area that someone doesn’t wish us to see?

The above 7th, 8th and 9th images are all associated with the Mirny Station facilities dating back as much as 54 years and are not particularly anomalous. As you can see, the 7th image is of the tank site and the 8th and 9th images demonstrate a collection of Mirny Stations structures scattered in the ice and rocks around in the terrain. Some likely date back to 1946 when the station was first established and in later years. Most of the tanks for example look very old. This kind of evidence is included here to demonstrate what the Mirny Station area looks like, where it is located, and why it should not be confused with the more anomalous evidence located at the Haswell Island sites as follows.

The above 10th image of Haswell Island serves as the locator image for the more anomalous evidence in this report. There is plenty of anomalous evidence at this site but most of it is so image resolution and smudge image tampering compromised that not much can be made of it with any real confidence and so I’ve skipped over that. The samplings that I have pointed out here suffer from this problem as well but a little less compromised and I suspect some of you will find them suggestive and interesting.

The above 11th image demonstrates a fairly large long ribbon of green tinted fresh water in the Haswell Island rocky terrain. Note that it, like the many water sites reported on in my last Report 195, is in an impossible liquid state in this extremely freezing cold and windy terrain of the coastal area of the Antarctic continent, the coldest place on Earth. There are also two fairly large lakes below this point and near the site of the tower or spire shaped object.

As you can see, the above 12th, 13th, and 14th images, each panning from left to right in sequence demonstrate a lot of evidence that suggests civilization even though it is at the limit of visual resolution and has been compromised by a lot of smudge treatments. The presence of all that extensive smudge suggests to me that an extensive amount of larger more recognizable objects have likely been hidden from our view leaving only the smaller evidence for us to see a bit of.

The red arrows point out some of the better evidence but do not by any stretch encompass all of it. I suspect that what we are able to see represents only the most minor of the total evidence at this Haswell Island site and why it was left out of the worst of the tampering. If so, we’re talking about a very extensive amount of development here that cannot be adequately explained by national or multinational research stations or military activities, not even secret ones.

With that thought in mind, add the fact that Mirny Station is located out in the ice on some scrubby rocks with residents running around in dirty ice and mud slush instead of this big elevated rock island with its extensive relatively ice free terrain and liquid fresh water suggesting a less severe warmer (geothermal?) climate. Avoiding this more favorable site just doesn’t make sense to me. It logically suggests that this Haswell Island locale is being intentionally avoided. If so, the obvious question is why?

The above 15th image is another one demonstrating a smaller group of likely geometric shaped structures. Some will argue that these shapes are caused by imaging and/or processing artifacts and that this is the same with the previous 12th, 13th, and 14th image evidence. Without getting into technical discussions, this isn’t image artifacts but this observation is based on experience and others wishing to avoid the truth will still want to have their way. So let them think whatever they will.

The above 16th image primarily demonstrates a close in shot of a tall tower in the terrain casting a lengthy dark shadow. I got as close as I could with this piece of evidence because I want you to also take a careful look at the brown tinted fluffy texture look that is characteristic of a lot of the rocky terrain. I suspect this brownish fluffy look to be carefully applied smudge image tampering. I suspect that the small lighter color area around the base of the tower and at other small spots to be the real terrain color.

I suspected this as well in my last Report 195 of that locale but didn’t feel comfortable enough in making the observation publicly. The brownish texture looks good and holds up well in more distant views but begins to have problems the close one examines it. If you will look close, even though this is suppose to be raw rocky terrain devoid of any tree growth obscuring it, the brownish areas a actually devoid of any real texture except for some lighter and darker shadings that only mimic rocky irregularities.

Likewise, except for the tower and its shadow, there simply are no other shadows small or large in this image’s terrain. When one spreads out the view from the tower, there simply are no objects casting shadows and this is just not how real elevated rocky terrain looks. The only dark areas are either water or dark places that are highly suspicious as tampering applications or crack and crevassing dark interiors.

The above 17th and last image demonstrates a long continuous object of unknown origin or makeup. It is colored like the rocks that surround it and may be just more rock? However, more than likely its visual surface texture and color is a result of careful smudge treatments applied to it as well as to the surrounding rocks causing it to blend in with those surfaces. However, that long continuous cylinder shape looks suspiciously anomalous to me with its long slender but massive uniformity. It reminds me of a long cylinder shaped object falling from the sky wedging into this site and becoming a permanent fixture in it. Could it be some strange ancient ship?

The two small red arrows point out other suspicious objects associated with questions. What I have identified as fresh water in the upper left portion of the image is identified as such despite the white ice presence due to its green tint no doubt caused by what I’ve come to learn is the algae typically present in the Antarctic unfrozen fresh water environments. It was the same in the earlier Report 195 and the many unfrozen fresh water sites there. In comparison, salt water sites are characterized by a sunlight reflectivity blue tint.

So what’s the bottom line here? Why should this be of any importance to you? In my opinion, it is a matter of truthfulness and the lack of it coming from the most influential parties on this planet. How are we populations ever to advance when information pathways to us are filled with worthless tripe, false information, and lies?

As for me, I suspect that old past research expeditions into the Antarctic environment have along and along discovered pre-existing civilization evidence in this area. I suspect the main publicly known expedition involved in this was the 1946-47 military recon in force to Antarctica named Operation Highjump. I suspect that this civilization evidence is regarded as a potential resource for gaining advanced technological advantage and therefore kept secret from a public that might object to our trying to raid this resource and/or might want to freak out if it is alien and they knew of that with certainty.

I suspect that so much extensive and blatant smudge treatments on the Antarctic continent tell us just how extensive this kind of evidence in larger more obvious forms may be. Just as I suspected with the Moon, I suspect the reason that the Antarctic land in Report 195 and the Haswell Island locale in this report and likely other undiscovered sites have not been settled on by us is because there is already someone there in the best spots active and perfectly capable of defending their territory.

If so, why would they allow our settlements so close to them as is the case here with Haswell Island and Mirny Station? I have no crystal ball insight into that but I suspect it is logically part of a program by others to allow our kind an arms length proximity drawn by the bait like flies to honey of technological gain that eventually generates familiarity and a gradual reduction of fear driven aggression reaction on our kind’s part. Of course I could also just be full of it on this to. Certainly that would be the official take and those that do not want to be disturbed reaction to such comments, but then there is all that extensive smudge to explain away too.

Earth humans have assumed from the very beginnings of our current civilization and all during it that the Earth is solely our place to dominate and not to be shared in this way with anyone else. It’s the same with the Moon right over our heads every night. However, that may be erred assumptions based on pretense and not based on fact. We may find that we have behaved in our assumptions like the preverbal Ostrich with its head buried in the sand pretending that it is safe and believing in what we want to believe. Could it be that someone who is not us has an older and better claim to parts of this world?

Those that are use to thinking alone and independently may not be especially disturbed by this concept and keep moving on forward. On the other hand, those conditioned to follow and unable to operate without a community herd psychology may have a lot of trouble with this concept. Where do you think you fit into this picture?

As for me, it doesn’t bother me. Rather, if true, as long as I am alive I will be moving cautiously but also excited about stretching my mind grasping at new concepts and insights that differences will inevitably bring. I’m ready to pioneer with anyone who is ready to pioneer with me and pursue beneficial avenues for all.

So what’s so dangerous about operating within a herd psychology? Think about it. As just one lone example, cancer is a great killer of humans and the battle against it consumes billions of people’s lives world wide and their wealth which at the same time also enriches great world industries. A cheap and readily available cure would benefit populations in the billions immensely but also destroy the great industries that parasite off of this terrible scourge. It’s the same with energy and its consumption. Note that the most influential people in the world are also the richest. How do you think that came about?

What choice do you think the richest most influential people (the few) would make if they could control knowledge of a cancer cure or a source of commonly available cheap energy not subject to centralized control and not subject to population checks and balances? Got any doubts about the answer to that? It’s not about to happen. Why? Because the suffering of the many benefits the few in mega ways important to them and it is how they got to be the richest and most influential by acquiring and keeping advantage under wraps and blocking it from common public knowledge.

The world may be a more complex place than we’ve allowed ourselves to imagine but there is nothing insurmountable about it for knowledgeable involved and participating populations. Yet we willing sink into ignorance and participate in the world’s ills by avoidance and abrogating our own responsibilities to a few who then in turn vampire off of us with our blessing. They pee down our collective collar while convincing us that it is only raining. Meanwhile, I suspect others watch to see if we can break these chains of our own making but worse, they are likely judging our fitness to fit in their greater environments.

Recommended Reading: Antarctica Mysteries

Antarctica Mysteries

By J. P. Skipper

For any who wish to track behind me, the above 1st image is included here to help locate the evidence site on the coastal area of Antarctica at the Southern Sea but inland from the coast. When zooming in on this site in Google Earth, one will encounter a narrow pale blue strip at this location within which the evidence reported on here resides. That pale blue strip is a corridor of high resolution surrounded by an extensive sea of smudge obfuscation and that narrow higher resolution strip is the sole reason why we are able to view just a little truth here.

The above 2nd image is another context locator image but this time closer and showing what the pale blue narrow strip of higher resolution looks like and the location of the main evidence sites within it. If the whole of the Antarctica continent was revealed at this kind of higher resolution, there is no telling what many kinds of truths would be revealed to us in the public. Further, one can’t help but get angry when one realizes that we in the public treated as a bunch of dummies are otherwise disrespectfully fed a load of unmentionable material even though we paid for the real thing but certainly aren’t getting that in return.

The above 3rd image is an example of what I mean. The white blank smooth area in the upper left corner of the image is smudge image tampering obfuscation as viewed relative to and side-by-side with a relatively much clearer not obfuscated right portion of the image. Note the sharp straight boundary between the two fields. Note how a portion of the big rough chunk of broken ice casting a dark shadow and with the red arrow on it disappears up under this smudge coating and how nothing more of it, not even a suggestion of it, can be seen through the smudge demonstrating just how thick and obscuring the smudge really is.

Note also that because the Antarctica continent is in theory mostly covered by snow and ice and snow and that solid particulate is so bright sunlight reflective, we likely wouldn’t know the difference if we were looking around in the smudge areas and encountered only some occasional poorly seen blurry rocks. We would likely just pass the poor visibility and lack of any detail off as due to the bright white sunlight reflectivity, fog, etc. However, the above A-B comparison and ruler straight boundary reveals the real truth as to the presence of the obfuscation and this comes to us only because someone by mistake or intent (rebels within?) allowed this narrow satellite strip of truth to be included and come through to us.

By the way, that light green/bluish tint surface that may look like land to you in the above 3rd image is actually very old thick ice floating on water with the edge of the dark water just visible in the upper right corner of the image. I suspect that the ice is tinted this color because it is almost certainly fresh water with microbial life in and on the ice causing the tint. Be glad of it because it is also causing the ice to be less sunlight reflective compared to the big elevated iceberg chunks also present. This slight darker sunlight absorbing rather than sunlight reflecting quality contributes to our being able to see better detail rather than it being washed out in white color.

In any case, as we move up this narrow corridor of higher more true imaging resolution, let’s examine a few mysteries along the way in the evidence as follows.

The above 4–5th and 6–7th image sets are of the same type of evidence in two separate locations not very far from each other in this narrow corridor of Google-Antarctica imaging truth. For the lack of a better term I’ve called these two sites “blowholes” and their general location is in the labeling in the 2nd image in this report. However, blowhole is misleading as you will see below.

This evidence at first resembles blowholes such as that caused by volcanism created heat deep down below that in turn causes heated water to rise and exit as a vent on the surface and so it is natural to interpret these two sites as that. However, take a closer look at these two holes in the 4th and 6th images.

Note that the ice in the hole downward slope is mostly and oddly confined to the left site of the hole in both sites. Also note that this ice on the left side has a slight greenish tint to it as compared to the rest of the snow/ice in the hole’s general vicinity. This indicates that the source of this ice on the left is from within the hole as compared to the other vicinity ice which is much more likely surface snow/ice in origin.

If this was a natural water vent, we should expect that the water with the slight green tint exiting the hole would be much more generally distributed and spread around the hole and its outer surface areas. The fact that the slight green tint ice is confined to the left side only in two separate sites is a bit anomalous and suspicious. Also, note that both holes are elliptical in shape and oriented in the same direction which is again a bit anomalous.

Now it could be that the left side of each site represents a depression relative to the higher rest of the sides of the holes. If so, it could be that heated water welling up from below but not really fully venting may on occasion rise and push into the depressions and then drain back in the hole leaving water behind on the left side to shortly freeze into the slightly green tinted ice. Unfortunately, this straight down satellite view doesn’t allow us to determine if this possibility may be so.

On the other hand, both sites separate some distance from each other have a little too many similarities that strains the chance factor considerably. It is also possible that they are permanent but camouflaged exit points in rocky terrain for some solid wide but flattened objects exiting from underground to the surface environs always in the same direction and via passage first through the water and then up in the air carrying water shedding off the object always dropping off in the same place on the hole left side.

It would have helped considerably if this higher resolution strip would have encompassed a larger general area of this terrain as opposed to this narrow corridor. Perhaps there is more of this type of evidence to see that could be more informative as context information? Unfortunately, the view here is just too narrow a slice to be drawing much in the way of definitive conclusions. At this point there’s just enough truth for it to be really anomalous and suspicious. The key to the above Antarctica evidence is inland fresh water presence in a liquid unfrozen state and the next evidence below will be of this as well.

Before getting into that, did you know that statistically this continent contains 70% of Earth’s fresh water? Of course most of that is suppose to be in the form of snow/ice solid particulates laying around sometimes thousands of feet deep on as well as offshore of the continent. You should know that the average temperature in the Antarctic is –49º C with the coldest temperature on record and the coldest on Earth being –128.6º F or –89º C. In other words, its very cold and most of the time far below the freezing point of fresh water.

However, in the peak of summer the temperature can rise to a whopping 41º F (5º C) to 59º F (15º C) for a very short time. Note that these temperatures are above the freezing temperature of water at sea level but remember that such “warm” temperatures can last for only a few weeks with little impact on large bodies of ice.

With that said, the above 8th image demonstrates a considerable size inland body of green tinted water in a liquid state embedded in elevated rocky terrain. Note that there is no floating ice and only very small residual patches of snow/ice in terrain depressions around the site. That is very significant. Further, this is just a single sample and there is many times more of this same unfrozen liquid water evidence north of this point in this rocky terrain not shown here. There is so much in fact that incredibly it all represents an extensive network of mostly interconnected and mostly navigable large water ways.

Considering that this incredibly is located in the supposedly coldest freezing conditions on Earth where ice extreme thickness lasts for thousands of years without melting, this large area of fresh water presence in a liquid state is extremely anomalous. Also, since there is hardly any ice presence even right at the lake shorelines, we can assume the fact that it is not frozen over likely means that this is deep water right up to the shorelines and perhaps even lightly geothermally heated from below over a large area.

Note that the rocky terrain is also mostly free of snow/ice. This too is typical of the overall site as viewed in Google Earth. Obviously, the temperatures in this general area may be cold from our point of view but the visual evidence here clearly demonstrates that it is just not cold enough to support extensive snow/ice presence no matter what is “suppose” to be the case in Antarctica.

With that thought in mind, I’ve tried to look closely time permitting to see if I could see any signs of civilization evidence in this liquid fresh water mile temperature lost world but I see none that stand out enough to really identify as such. If any is there on a size scale large enough to see at this strips resolution, it has been carefully erased to blend in with the rocky terrain which is itself too uniform in coloring causing me to suspect tampering. If that suspicion is true, then someone has allowed us to see the liquid fresh water sites but anything more than that is apparently taboo.

On the other hand, the above 9th image evidence is located over on the right edge area of the rocky terrain going out into snow/ice fields. It demonstrates what clearly appears to be green tinted surface water shallows also in a liquid state. Note that the left side of the water site is shallow liquid water while the right side seems to be a darker tinted green and likely biological growth of some kind on wetlands associated with the water site with the growth doing its conversion of sunlight to chlorophyll thing.

Note that, although plenty of snow/ice is present all around the site, the water is still in at least a partial liquid self leveling state. I’ve included a view of this evidence because the water is unmistakable even in outer terrain areas like this and this site also seems to present the added bonus of living bio-life evidence as well on dryer ground.

The above 10th image serves as the context locator image for the 8th and 9th image’s liquid surface water site evidence pointed out with the red arrows. The many small red “X’s” in the image represents a sampling of the other largest water sites. In addition, there are many lakes and entirely landlocked smaller bodies of liquid water that are present in this area. I have not bothered to point out or document here in this reporting because it would take just too many images.

Above the large water body sites you will see a lot of jumbled ice presence and these for the most part represent water sites where the water depth is more shallow allowing more ice to form. At the same time there is a great deal of large broken up sections of old floating ice presence in the upper area that suggest this area has in the past been more covered with ice. It may be that the external weather temperature has not warmed so much as the land itself geothermally from below (?) resulting in melt and floating ice breaking up.

Please note in this 10th context image how closely the rocky terrain visible out of the snow/ice with this liquid water evidence is so closely boundaried by the ever present smudge obfuscation fields on either side. It almost seems that someone intentionally fitted this corridor of higher resolution satellite imaging just so that this fabulous huge and extensive unfrozen navigable liquid water site geology could be found by someone in the otherwise heavy obfuscation of Antarctica. Who do we thank, aliens or rebels?

With not only ice free deep fresh water lakes as well as deep water navigable winding waterways and large open bodies of fresh water in networks and a mostly snow/ice free rocky terrain extensive landscape clearly demonstrating ice free milder temperatures, one has to ask why are humans in the Antarctic freezing in other much more difficult to contend with locations. This seems like a much more practical location for a permanent settlement supplied by air with a real landing strip.

Could it be that there is something recognizable out there secret and hidden from our sight under those boundary smudge obfuscation fields that would preclude the consideration of such a human settlement presence? Could it also be that there is evidence at this site that even I cannot recognize as that anomalous because it is just too unfamiliar to even my eye? Indeed, it you choose to close inspect this area in Google Earth to confirm my findings here, there is much here in this rocky outcrop area that is very strange looking and therefore speculative and especially in the upper environs.

The above 11th image is a sample of some of this strange looking evidence looking very much like a lot that I’ve seen on Mars. In this image it is a dense tangled web of crisscrossing ribbons that appear to exist on formerly wet fresh water site bottoms that are now exposed to the air.

Note how some of the longer ribbons above are not straight but tend to wander around while still going in a specific purposeful direction. In the upper environs this is typical as are the presence of densely packed knobs by the thousands just out of definition reach of the image base resolution. Also, in other nearby locations these wandering type continuous ribbons seem to connect and/or bridge between multiple very white fresh water ice masses scattered at random throughout the terrain as though they were paths created by something purposefully accessing the fresher whiter ice not suffused with the green tint. In other cases, the irregular but continuous ribbons also seem to serve as dams blocking floating ice and forming enclosures with floating ice sections in them. Someone managing ice chunks?

The question becomes does this represent some form of life that we are unfamiliar with and find hard to recognize? Perhaps life that does not lay out its systems in very rigid geometric shape as do we Earth humans? The resolution is great enough in this strip to raise more questions but it is not good enough to answer other questions.

The above 12th image is in my opinion an evidence debris field site located just north above the 4th—7th image evidence sites and well below the many fresh water sites area. Now let’s understand that this evidence is very suggestive rather than in any way definitive. The red arrows point to some of the more suggestive evidence.

This does appear to be a chaotic debris field consisting of partially buried and exposed objects, some of which should be of major interest. At least I think they should be of interest to any archaeologist with even a small amount of curiosity but who can think some outside the box as to the possibilities. I know that I would love to be part of any expedition to this place that believes in truth. Is that giant rounded object in the lower left the remains of the leading edge of a partially burled disk type craft or some other tremendous rounded structure that met its fate in some ancient cataclysm?

I must say that suggestive level evidence abounds in this report of this general site that encourages speculation as to both current and ancient alien presence that the image strip alone cannot adequately answer. On the other hand, who would have ever expected to find in Antarctica the coldest place on Earth a very large site literally littered with deep fresh water in a liquid state? Is it a lost world or just someone else’s world?

Either way, if I am the first to publicly discover and report on this incredible unfrozen liquid fresh water evidence (?) in Antarctica, I think I’d like to call it “Skipper Land,” something I’ve never done before. However, my irrelevant personal desires aside, make no mistake about it, here’s the bottom line with this hard visual evidence from Google Earth.

The at least now public discovery of this undeniable area of surface water in a liquid state and the lack of significant snow/ice presence in this rocky terrain area of Antarctica, supposedly the coldest place on Earth, will have official types and debunkers scrambling and back pedaling for explanations. As damage control they will be trying to convince us that this is just the result of a “natural” underlying geothermal hot spot in the land that is causing these obvious very isolated warmer conditions and that such sites are extremely rare. Such an explanation will to the innocent likely sound fairly reasonable and many will accept it mostly because they want to.

However, let’s think about this a little deeper. In all the many past decades of various settlements established by many nations around on this continent and its many coastal ice masses, why has this obvious warmer conditions site not already been settled? After all, these warmer conditions and fresh water and the location on land just inland from the coast make it ideal. Who would want to explore a frozen continent from the bases that we do have established where one is freezing one’s buns off and it is life threatening deadly to go outside without extreme cold weather gear on? Does this make any sense to you?

Likewise, look again at image #3 near the top of this report. See that obfuscating smudge blotting out every thing in the land beneath its applications in the upper left corner and side of the image. I would guess that the bulk of the Antarctica continent is hidden from view in this way in varying degrees. WHY? Surely this question must occur to you. What is it that someone doesn’t want us to see in Antarctica? Why is it necessary to obscure most of an entire continent in the satellite imaging rather than just some isolated places? Remember, this is a large continent and not just an island at the lower end of this world.

I remind you once again that shortly after WWII an “expeditionary” military force (an entire fleet including an aircraft carrier) of ships and thousands of men were sent to Antarctica for “exploration” purposes. Of course such a large military force commitment suggests a covert secret mission cranking up the rumor and denial mills. Further, although this is officially denied, it has been rumored that two atomic blasts were set off some where at or near Antarctica back in those post WWII times. In fact, although I didn’t understand the significance of this at the time some years ago and didn’t preserve it, I’ve seen pictures that included a fleet of ships in the foreground, a completely snow and ice covered landmass and mountain range in the far background, and an unmistakable atomic blast between the ships and the landmass. The presence of a high mountain range suggested Antarctica.

I don’t know about you but to me that’s a lot of USA military activity in force after WWII was over. It’s also a huge expenditure of money, materials, and man power post WWII (with USA citizens in lean times economically recovering from the war effort) to allegedly test military post war cold weather military operations in case of future war with the old USSR and/or investigate the frozen desolate home of a bunch of cold hardy seals and penguins or even a few isolated diehard freezing Nazis.

Could it be that those few freezing Nazis, if they existed at all, were interacting with someone else long established there and that this someone else was the true target of the USA military operation and that the Nazi presence was just a covering misdirection rumor in case it was needed? If so, the continued obfuscation of Antarctica in the satellite imaging into the present tells us that control of the continent was likely NOT established by this military operation. Further, if the story of atomics being used is true, it suggests that who ever is there is able to withstand the use of atomics, were not impressed, and perhaps we’ve had to accept some compromises with respect to who controls the bulk of this land?

On the other hand, is someone who is us here on Earth trying to hide the habitable conditions in Antarctica to give themselves the time to establish a firm military control presence there? In light of the fact that other nations could monitor such activity via their own satellite over flight imaging, this does not seem very likely.

That’s a lot of speculation but then there is the fact of all the obfuscation applications covering most of an entire continent as sampled in image #3 here and that undeniable liquid surface water presence in images #8 and #9 clearly demonstrating warmer conditions. That kind of hard verifiable imaging evidence is hard to get around and explain away. Could it be that someone else not us right here on Earth is calling the shots in this land confining our settlements to its periphery?

Now all that visual obfuscation is there for a reason and so I suspect this report may hit a soar spot among the secrecy types. So I suggest that all of you around the world who can please go quickly to this spot in Google Earth (following my visual directions) to download, document, and preserve this evidence before it can be sanitized following this reporting.

Addendum Added 12/12/2010: It appears that the site of this evidence and its year round unfrozen fresh water in a liquid state is named Bunger Hills and was first discovered and filmed by a seaplane flight in 1947 commanded by Navy Lieutenant David E. Bunger surveying and filming as part of the infamous military 1946/1947 Navy expedition in force named US Navy Operation Highjump overall commanded by Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Jr. It seems the plane landed on the water confirming temperatures of 38º and that it was fresh water. Note that I’ve included duplicating material video links below containing 1940s film of this discovery just in case some links are lost in the future. The site is located about about 220 miles or 350 km from the Russian Mirny Station to the west that is part of my Report 196.

I’ve checked the coordinates and the Bunger Hills location is the same as that in my report. Of the great many lakes in this area, the largest and longest is Algae Lake (aka Lake Figurnoye) some 16 miles or 25 km long and up to 449 feet or 137 meters deep. Admiral Byrd described the area as “…..one of the most remarkable regions on Earth. An island suitable for life had been found in a universe of death.” Also, apparently the Russians attempted to establish a small station on this site in 1956 named Oazis later turned over to Poland in 1959 and renamed Dobrowolski Station none of which amounted to much and eventually was abandoned.

This information is important as context but it really doesn’t have that much to do with my reporting and observations except to confirm formal discovery and awareness of this site by others prior to my reporting. I’m not going to bother with it but if someone were to go to the trouble of making a very careful survey of the entire site in this reasonably good imaging and no evidence of the Oazis/Dobrowolski Station sites were revealed, I would suspect the presence of careful image tampering inadvertently covering this visual information.

[Source: Mars Anomaly Research]

Self Replication in Alien Life Forms: Alien Sex?

Fungi reproduction

Image via Wikipedia

By R. A. Freitas

Of all the important things life forms do, self-reproduction seems quite unique. Deprive an animal of its food or drink, draw off its blood, or cut away its skeleton, and it dies. But prevent an animal from reproducing and, usually, nothing happens. The species may eventually become extinct, but the individual organism lives out its lifespan. Reproduction of self is an important asset but is not absolutely essential for life – even on Earth.

This is true despite protests that self-replication is somehow the entire point of biological activity. The vast majority of social insects never engage in personal self-reproduction, yet these species are extremely successful. The anatomy of domesticated turkeys has been altered by breeding for plumpness so that these animals can no longer mate in the natural way and must be artificially inseminated with human help. A number of higher Earth species such as the mule are quite sterile, yet do not become extinct.

Indeed, an intelligent extraterrestrial race might lack the capability of individual direct self-replication. We might imagine two closely allied nonsentient alien species among whom, when a successful interspecies mating occurs (or in a special way or in a special environment), sterile but intelligent “mule” offspring are the result of the union. Clearly there is no bar to the rise of intelligence in such a situation – the hybrid’s brain mass. neural complexity, or level of organization may be qualitatively greater than those of its non-sentient parents. Our intelligent but sterile race would maintain their numbers by corraling and manipulating the “dumb” mixed parental population much as stockmen raise choice cattle and stablemen breed champion thoroughbreds.

It is entirely possible that some very complex extraterrestrial living creatures may have no need to reproduce themselves at all, either personally or at the species level. One class of such beings might be self-creating but non-replicating organisms, analogous to very advanced robots capable of making continual repairs and of upgrading their own mechanisms periodically. Other nonreproductive lifeforms might increase their numbers simply by physically expanding and then dividing into pieces of various sizes – biomass increases as easily by growing to larger volumes as by replicating a large number of small originals.

There could even exist a race which evolves by means of acquired characteristics. Such lifeforms would neither die nor reproduce, but would instead modify their parts to survive in a changing environment. Selection would act internally on their constitutions, rather than on a succession of descendent organisms. The closest analogies, according to Dr. P.H.A. Sneath, are terrestrial soils, which don’t reproduce in the usual sense but are complexly organized systems nevertheless. Soils respond to environmental changes, arise where there is rock and wind to erode it, and are virtually immortal. If ever they tried to “compete” with their neighbors, such soil-like organisms would blend together with a total loss of individuality.

Finally, reproduction is not a prerequisite for sex. Two dissimilar growth systems could trade genetic information about their expansion patterns, then each continue growing in a slightly different way. This would be an example of “sexual growth” without replication. Of course, self-reproduction does have many advantages. Whole-body duplication allows rapid dispersion into new niches and produces abundant biological alternatives upon which natural selection may operate. It is a telling observation that most complex terrestrial creatures are capable of self-replication. Assuming Earth is a typically exotic planet, we should expect that many, though certainly not all. extraterrestrials will be reproducers.

Is Sex Necessary?

If reproduction is a useful convenience for a species, sex seems almost pure luxury. Certainly there is no fundamental reason why evolution and diversity cannot thrive in its absence. There is no universal law prohibiting asexuality.

In fact, asexuals can be vastly more prolific in the short run. Microorganisms chum out literally billions of copies in the space of a few hours, relying almost exclusively on such simple techniques as binary fission and budding. No “opposite sex” is customarily required. While it is true that many sexual species are also quite fecund, as a general rule fewer offspring are produced than among the asexuals.

Furthermore, asexual reproduction is good economics from the personal point of view. An organism which copies itself without sex passes undiluted its entire genetic heritage to its young. Offspring are exact duplicates of the originals. A bisexual parent, on the other hand, normally contributes only half of its own genes towards the construction of an offspring. The other half must be donated by the second parent. From the standpoint of the selfish gene, sex entails a rather poor profit margin in comparison to no-sex.

Except …

A completely asexual species produces a population of virtual duplicates, save an occasional mutation. Since variation is the raw material of evolution, and the lack of sex decreases the breadth of this variation, such creatures are a distinct disadvantage when competing with their sexual brethren. New genetic combinations in asexual species can accumulate only by a sequence of fortuitous mutations in the same family lineage. Asexuals must “stand in line” to wait for a series of rare mutations.” Change spreads only slowly through the gene pool.

Sex allows the accumulation of variation in parallel, rather than in series. In a sexual species many new genes can spread rapidly throughout the population because gene-jumbling produces a novel combination (possibly of several new genes at once) with each act of reproduction. Rare mutations become more widely distributed. So great are the advantages of sex that even many normally asexual organisms have occasional sexual encounters to beef up the waning gene pool. This is especially true in particularly harsh or rapidly changing environments.

For example, both the freshwater hydra and the aphid reproduce asexually for most of the year. As winter approaches. with hard times ahead, these animals switch over to sexual reproduction. This ensures genetic diversity when the colonies disband and disperse with the arrival of cold weather.

In the billion years or so since its invention, sex has proven remarkably successful – if we are to judge from the fossil record of life on this planet. Sexual species dominate the animal world, and the most widespread and important groups are all but exclusively sexual in their mode of reproduction. What of the creatures of other worlds? We don’t know whether all alien species must have chromosomes, genes, or some other information-carrying molecules – perhaps some extraterrestrials reproduce by a process akin to xerography. But two things are clear: Variability is the key to biological complexity and survival, and sex reshuffles the biological data deck nonpareil.

 

How Many Sexes?

Not all Earth creatures are bisexual. Terrestrial biology offers several examples of multisexual reproduction. One interesting case is the lowly paramecium, which has between five and ten sexes depending on how you count. These are distinct mating forms which arise at different times under definite conditions, and which can only mate in certain specific combinations. Another example is certain quadrisexual fungi, notably Basidiomycetes, in which there are four distinct sexual groupings. Among the higher animals, greylag geese display an evolved sociobiological “behavioral trisexuality.” One goose “marries” and mates with two male ganders. Multisexuality is clearly a viable alternative.

Why, then, are the vast majority of terrestrial sexual lifeforms bisexual?

The answer seems to be that one sexual partner is just enough to properly shuffle the genetic deck. Each healthy individual has a reasonable chance of mating with a member of the opposite sex. Apparently, two are both necessary and sufficient. ^More than this may seriously impair the chances for species continuity. The more sexes required for successful reproduction, the more difficult it is to bring them all together properly at just the right time. The greater the number of links in the mating chain, the greater is the chance that the species may become vulnerable to certain predators or other environmental severities, thus jeopardizing the future of the entire race. And it is not clear how, say, three sexes could generate variability very much more effectively than two.

So while extraterrestrial multi-sexuality cannot be ruled out, requiring more than two sexes for reproductive activity seems an unnecessarily complicated solution to a problem elegantly resolved using only two. It’s a safe bet that bisexuality is the overwhelmingly dominant mode of sexual reproduction among the alien lifeforms in our Galaxy.

 

The Bisexual Universe

Assuming that most sexually-reproducing ETs will have just two sexes, bisexuality does not necessarily demand the existence of distinct male and female forms. A case in point is the black mold Rhizopus nigricans, which displays an unusual form of reproduction known as “heterethallism.” This species of fungus is bisexual, inasmuch as two organisms are required for fertilization and replication to take place. However, the two sexes are physically indistinguishable. There are no constant differences between members of opposite mating groups other than their reciprocal behavior when crossed. Thus, it is impossible to designate one form of the black mold as male and the other as female. Customarily the complementary groups are labeled merely “+” and “-” for convenience during experiments.

One can imagine a race of intelligent extraterrestrials apparently unisexual to our undisceming eyes but which actually practice heterothallic sex. Such beings would most certainly lack secondary sexual characteristics, those hormone-induced physical landmarks such as beards and breasts to which we humans are so pleasantly accustomed. They might even lack distinctive primary sexual characteristics such as internal or external gonads. Norms of marriage, inheritance, language, religion and social behavior would be profoundly affected by this state of affairs. The usual social tensions caused by sexual competition in human cultures would be more diffuse in a society in which every member was a potential mate and in which all could become pregnant. though sexual undercurrents might arise in all interpersonal relationships. The disparate male/female roles in human social roles and courtship rituals would defy their understanding, and to heterothallic ETs, human males – who participate in reproductive acts for pleasure but cannot become pregnant as a consequence – might be judged especially pitiful, handicapped, even perverted creatures.

Assuming maleness and femaleness exist among most bisexual alien species, there are again major variations in Earthly biology. It is quite possible to have an organism which is neither strictly female nor strictly male, but rather exhibits some alternating or intermediate condition. For example, simultaneous hermaphrodites possess at once both female and male sex organs. Ovaries and testes are present together in the same individual. Matings occur in pairs, with each partner serving both sexual roles at the same time. Planarians, earthworms, sponges and snails fall into this category, and a few simultaneous hermaphrodites among the more highly evolved vertebrates are known, such as the banded flamefish Serranus subltgarius.

Such intersexual animals can be sex-mosaics in time as well. Many creatures start life as one sex and finish it as another. These sequential hermaphrodites come in many varieties. For instance, in protoandry an animal is first male and later female; proterogyny is the converse, with young females metamorphosing into functional males as they age. Or the process can be cyclical. Oysters are bom as males, then spend the rest of their lives switching back and forth between male and female in irregular cycles a few months long.

What would a society of sequential hermaphroditic aliens be like? We can take a few clues from the life history of the freshwater shrimp Gammarus pulex. Each of these individual crustaceans is both male and female, but not at the same time. Newborn animals spend early life in a neuter stage, after which they pass through puberty and enter the first sexually active phase as functioning males. After a while, the maleness is exhausted. Latent ovaries ripen into maturity, and the organism spends the remainder of its life as a full-fledged female. Eggs are shed by middle-aged mothers and are fertilized by energetic youthful males still in the middle of their first cycle.

It is a magnificent bisexual system, one which works quite well on Earth. No individual is excluded from any phase of the reproductive process. Still more significant, each member of the colony plays both male and female roles during his/her life. Drawing an analogy to the human life cycle, zoologist Norman J. Berrill of McGill University in Montreal imagines that all halfgrown individuals, about ten years old and weighing about 34 kilograms, would be males – the only males – ready to act as such both sexually and “probably in other wayward ways.” Like their truly human counterparts, as troublemakers they would be kept in line by a closed society of matriarchs, roughly equal in number to the males but each twice the size and much older and wiser. This wisdom would be not merely of a general character, as among human parents, but also in the special sense of each having been a male herself, as understanding as a mother with a child and as little likely to put up with any nonsense, perhaps wistfully looking back to her youthful manhood. Womanhood would bud as usual when masculinity had faded, with growth continuing and full female maturity yet to come.

The institution of monogamous marriage as we know it would be quite impossible in such a society. Husbands would be forever changing into wives and males would be too immature psychologically to be treated as other than “child-lovers.” Such pedophilia is viewed as a sexual perversion in many human societies, but for our intelligent shrimps it would seem quite normal. Incest prohibitions might be inordinately complex, since all fertile middle-aged females in the family in theory could mate with any or all male children. To offset the negative effects of inbreeding, exchanges of matriarchs could occur between families, doubtless accompanied by the same pomp and ceremony as upon “giving the bride away” in our society. Love in the traditional human sense probably would not exist – females could have strong affective and familial non-sexual ties with other females, whereas relations between females and males would be characterized more as controlling playfulness than by affectionate cooperation. Our usual concepts of male/female love might seem quite alien to them.

 

Xenogamy

Given these tremendous potential cultural and biological differences, one wonders if meaningful interspecies social-sexual relations would be possible at all between humans and extraterrestrials. Many science fiction authors have tried to deal sensibly with this touchy question, such as Philip Jose Farmer in The Lovers, in Flesh, and in Strange Relations, Walter Tevis in his The Man Who Fell to Earth, and a host of others. There have been “reports” of sexual molestations of humans by the occupants of UFOs. And Star Trek’s own Mr. Spock is a prime example of xenogamy, the product of a marriage between a human female alid a male alien from the fictional planet Vulcan.

It is not at all implausible that interspecies copulation can occur. Given the prevalence of the complementary male and female organs throughout the animal kingdom on this planet, such activity may indeed be possible even between creatures of “gross morphologic disparity.”[4] Alfred Kinsey’s researchers turned up accounts of attempted couplings between a female eland and an ostrich, a male dog and a chicken, a female chimpanzee and a tomcat, and a stallion and a human female. Obviously, relations between humans and other beings even roughly humanoid in shape can happen.

If such activity is possible, is it likely? Could humankind and an alien race derive sexual pleasure from mutual physical encounters? These are very difficult questions, mainly because the ET is such an unknown quantity. Extraterrestrials may have organs, appearances, sensitivities, and responses wholly incompatible with any conceivable human style of lovemaking.

And yet – in 1948 Kinsey reported that some 17 of all rural farmboys had experienced sexual congress with various barnyard animals, and had achieved orgasmic satisfaction in this way. (Less than a tenth of a percent of all females interviewed admitted such coition, although 1.5 of the sample reported some form of sexual contact with animals.) If bestiality occurs so regularly among human populations, can we state with any assurance that “xeniality” will not also occur when humans mingle socially with alien races? The evidence, scanty though it may be,suggests that interspecies sexual contacts are not only possible but probable.

One last question remains. When humans and aliens sexually join. will anything result from the union? Again, this is a difficult question because an unknown alien physiology is involved. Different species on Earth have been mated successfully from time to time – for instance, the hybrid offspring of a mallard and a pintail duck is fertile.

In 1975 a chance mating of two very different species of ape in the Grant Park Zoo produced the first reported ape hybrid. The offspring, dubbed a “siabon,” was the result of a mating between a male gibbon and a female siamang confined in a single cage. “Obviously,” remarked one researcher, “they had been sexually involved for some time.” Gibbon cells have 44 chromosomes, whereas siamang cells have 50, and thus are farther apart genetically than human beings and the great apes. The “siabon” offspring, believed sterile, has a mixed bag of 47 chromosomes – 22 from the father and 25 from the mother. Still, in the first analysis, xenobiologists recognize that interspecies fertilization, and especially hybrid fertility, is a rather rare phenomenon.

In the context of extraterrestrial matings, natural interspecies fertility should be even rarer. (Of course, with advanced technology almost anything may be possible – the first interkingdom clones combining plants and animals were achieved during the late 1970s.) We know that slight changes in the environment can cause enormous variations in planetary biochemistry. Nucleic acids, genes and codons may not be needed by ETs, or these may be essential but in different forms than are found on Earth. Many complicated and highly unlikely coincidences must occur for an alien/human mating to produce viable results. The two species must have identical amino acid sequences for proteins (assuming they even have proteins), the same optical rotation in their biomolecules, closely matched chromosomes with similar size and shape, the same kinds of genes located on the same chromosomes at the same locations, and so forth – all of which is highly improbable. It has not even been shown that humans can produce interspecies offspring with their own closest biological relatives – apes and other primates who share most of man’s biological heritage.

So interspecies matings involving humans aren’t likely to result in pregnancy. If pregnancy somehow does occur, the hybrid offspring probably won’t be viable. (It has been estimated that up to 50% of all normal human pregnancies may end in spontaneous abortion.) Finally, if somehow viable and carried to term, the interspecies hybrid will most likely be sterile or maladapted for natural survival, much like the mule or the liger. Hybrid vigor is unlikely in the offspring of parents of such widely varying genetic constitution.

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Searching For Extraterrestrial Life Forms on Other Planets

Evidence of Life on Mars and Analysis of Evidence of Life On Mars

 

Differential Survival Across the K‐T Boundary – Why the Non‐Avian Dinosaur Eggs Didn’t Hatch, and the Reptile and Bird Eggs Did

Artist's impression of the Chicxulub impact

Image via Wikipedia

Extinction in itself is, throughout geologic history, the norm rather than the exception.  The fact that many species perished in the aftermath of the many environmental calamities that occurred around 65 million years ago, (the Chicxulub asteroid impact and Deccan Volcanism) is hardly surprising.  The real question has always been the differential survival of species.  Dinosaurs were the dominant land animals for over 100 million years, the dominant herbivores, the dominant predators, ranging from chicken size to the largest land animals that ever lived, adapted to every environment, and living on every continent from pole to pole.  The question of  how this dominance ended is important, as it is fully possible that without this extinction, dinosaurs would still rule the earth, and mammals might still be rat sized animals rustling through the underbrush.
In the article, we argue that the global cooling period lasting from years to decades caused by the injection of SO2 from either asteriod impact or Deccan Volcanism differentially affected the hatching of dinosaur eggs as opposed to reptile and bird eggs.    We attempt to show that a global cooling of a few decades could have created a ‘dead generation’, where many reptile and bird eggs would still hatch, but dinosaur eggs would not, wiping out a 100 million years of dominance in a single generation.   We will examine data on the differing effects of cold on reptile and bird eggs today, along with dinosaur nesting behaviors and the stable Cretaceous climate.
It turns out the developmental temperature requirements for reptile and birds eggs are quite different.  Given the assumption that dinosaur eggs had similar developmental requirements to bird eggs, dinosaur eggs not incubated by body contact, and subjected to a global cooling of ~10C would result in dinosaur eggs that never hatched, while mammals, reptiles and amphibians would continue to reproduce.  Such a global cooling period is a predicted effect of both the  Chicxulub asteroid impact and Deccan Volcanism.  Avian dinosaurs (birds) that had evolved incubation by direct body contact would also have reproduced and survived.

A New Theory on Why the Dinosaurs Perished but Reptiles, Birds, Mammals and Amphibians Did Not

Probably no scientific mystery has captured the public imagination as broadly as the extinction of the dinosaurs. However, as many scientists have noted, the mystery isn’t so much why the dinosaurs disappeared, but rather why did other species survive? Why did every single one of the hundreds of species of dinosaurs, who were the dominant land animals for more than 100 million years, suddenly disappear about 65 million years ago, while many mammals, reptiles, birds, and amphibians survived?

Research conducted in the last few decades, while not answering the mystery of extinction, has shown a light on many issues around dinosaurs and their extinction. In one sense, all the dinosaurs did not disappear. Most researchers believe that one member of the Dinosaur family is still with us, in the shape of birds. We now know that two enormous events occurred near 65 million years ago that caused powerful environmental effects. One was an asteroid impact that occurred near present day Chicxulub, Mexico, where a ~10 km asteroid impacted the earth, and the other was Deccan volcanism, where much of modern‐day India was covered with lava. Both events are theorized to have caused short term global cooling by the injection of gigatons of  SO2 into the atmosphere. Other important research has hypothesized dinosaurs being endothermic, or ‘hot blooded’ animals as opposed to exothermic animals such as reptiles and amphibians; and many thousands of fossilized dinosaur eggs have been analyzed, giving us insight into dinosaur nesting behaviors.

However, the main question still eludes us. While the effects of the Chicxulub impact and Deccan volcanism decimated many animals, why did all the non‐avian dinosaurs, numerous and successful around the world from the equator to the polar regions, all die out while many previously less numerous and successful species survived? The answer we propose is that the global cooling period lasting from years to decades caused by injection of  SO2 into the atmosphere by either the Chicxulub impact or Deccan volcanism differentially affected the hatching of dinosaur eggs as opposed to reptile and bird eggs. We intend to show that a global cooling of a few decades could have created a ‘dead generation’, where many reptile and bird eggs would still hatch, but dinosaur eggs would not, wiping out a 100 million years of dominance in a single generation. We will examine data on the differing effects of cold on reptile and bird eggs today, along with dinosaur nesting behaviors and the stable Cretaceous climate.

Dinosaur Extinction

Numerous theories have been suggested for the demise of the dinosaurs, from the well accepted theories of an asteroid based cataclysm, massive volcanic eruptions or a more gradual climactic change; to the less accepted theories of disease, dinosaur stress, and egg‐eating mammals. In March of 2010, 41 scientists meeting at the University of Cambridge agreed, after a comprehensive review of the evidence, that the Chicxulub asteroid impact caused the K‐T boundary mass extinction event.  They state that the impact effects could have included “extended darkness, global cooling and acid rain”. However, many other scientists believe the primary culprit was the Deccan volcanism. Aside from the severe environmental effects of the volcanism, they note that earlier asteroid impacts on the scale of the Chicxulub impact do not seem to relate to known extinctions. [33]However, both events are believed to have injected gigatons of  SO2 into the atmosphere, where the SO2 would be converted to sulfate aerosols, causing short term global cooling periods that lasted for years to decades. [17] [18] [33] [34]

Cretaceous Weather Global Forecast: Warm, Same as Yesterday

The entire Mesozoic era was characterized by a complete lack of polar ice caps, an average temperature warmer than today, and a remarkably even temperature gradient from pole to pole. In contrast to the varied global climates of today, much of the planet enjoyed a similar climate. The poles, for example, were 50C (90F) warmer than today. In particular, the Cretaceous is often characterized as a ‘greenhouse climate’, where global temperatures were much more uniform than today, and only 25C separated average polar temperatures from those at the equator [6] [7] .

Dinosaurs (but interestingly not exothermic reptiles and amphibians) and deciduous forests were abundant at latitudes close to both North and South poles, latitudes today that are covered by either mile‐thick glaciers or perennial sea ice. While the question of how the dinosaurs adapted to months of darkness is still a controversial area of research today, summer months at high latitudes were characterized by warm temperatures, and of course 24 hour sunlight.

Global Weather Forecast 65 million BC: Pack that Winter Coat

The stable, warm, pole to pole climate that dinosaurs had enjoyed for the previous 150 million years was abruptly interrupted at some time around 65 millions years ago. The Chicxulub asteroid impact released an estimated 200 gigatons each of sulfur dioxide and water into the atmosphere, resulting in the production of sulfate aerosols that cooled the planet globally by perhaps 10C for years to decades. Pope [17] noted “global average surface temperatures probably dropped between 5° and 31°K, suggesting that global near‐freezing conditions may have been reached”. [17] [18]

However, the short, sharp, cooling caused by the asteroid impact may have been predated by eruptions of SO2 caused by the Deccan volcanism. Self [34] estimates that each of the 30 largest Deccan volcanic eruptions injected up to 150 gigatons of SO2, perhaps in such close succession that multiple years‐long cooling periods would overlap. [33]

Not All Eggs Are the Same

Today most bird species incubate their eggs, keeping them warm by direct body contact. This allows the eggs to reach the internal temperature required for the embryo to develop. While some species leave the nest for several hours at a time to forage for food, they return to incubate the eggs daily, and particularly to keep them warm during the nighttime hours.The only exceptions to this are birds that have found strategies that allow their eggs to incubate in warm, stable environments suitable for the narrow range of temperature required for bird egg incubation without brooding them. The brush turkey and other birds of the family Megapodiidae build huge mound nests made of earth and organic debris. The eggs are hatched by the heat of the composting mound which is tended only by the males who regulate the temperature carefully such that the eggs stay within a 33‐35°C incubation window. [19]

How does temperature affect hatching success in bird eggs? Joint research was conducted by the University of California and US Department of Agriculture [4] on the viability of avian eggs removed from their nests for periods of time prior to return and proper incubation. It was found that the minimum temperature the eggs experienced had a strong affect on their hatch rate. The hatch rate on eggs not incubated for 7 days was just 2.1%, and the temperatures never reached below 15C (59F) on any day, and much higher on most days. In any case, the developmental zero for avian eggs, being the temperature at which no development of the embryo can take place, is generally considered to be 24C‐26C (75F‐79F) [5].

Not all eggs are the same. Exothermic (cold blooded) reptile eggs are much more resilient to temperature changes than bird eggs. Eggs of many reptile species can tolerate temperatures well below the developmental zero, indeed, some can withstand temperatures close to freezing [10]. Experiments with the lizard Bassiana duperreyi that involved moving eggs to cooler regimes where overnight temperatures dropped to 0C resulted in “only a relatively short delay in hatching”. [11]. Eggs of the turtle chelydra serpentina can survive a couple of weeks at 10C, and go on to develop normally. [22]

Not only can reptile eggs survive low minimum temperatures, but their developmental zero temperature is much lower than that exhibited by bird eggs. Developmental zero temperatures for the lizards B. duperreyi and T. septentrionalis are estimated to be 14.2C (57F), and 16.0C for the turtle P. sinensis. [12]

The temperature requirements for incubation of eggs, which relate to the underlying reproductive and physiological processes of the animal (e.g.; endothermic or exothermic) seem to be little changed by evolution. Although birds have radiated over many millions of years to environments that vary from the steamiest jungles to the Antarctic, the requirements for egg incubation have apparently changed only little. Drent notes that for 25 varied bird species measured, incubation temperatures varied from 34C‐38C (93F‐100F), with most species incubating between 35C‐36C. The coldest known incubation for any bird is for the emperor penguin, which incubates its eggs at 31C (89F) in environments that are ‐60F. [20] [21]

In addition, while avian eggs must begin incubation within several days of laying, reptiles may delay egg development after laying by several months. Díaz‐Paniagua subjected chameleon eggs to initial low temperatures of 14C for up to 149 days, and still observed a hatching success of 96.4%. In an experiment that could replicate the effect of a 5C drop in average temperature following the Chicxulub impact, Qualls and Andrews subjected the eggs of the mountain lizard Sceloporus Virgatus to a 15C to 20C diurnal nesting temperatures, instead of its normal 20C to 25C diurnal nesting temperatures. The result was the hatch rate reduced from 94% to 82%, and the incubation period increased, but many viable lizards were produced. [23] [24]

Dinosaurs Nesting Behavior

Most dinosaurs could not have incubated their eggs by direct body contact. Certainly the idea of huge Cretaceous dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus Rex or Titanosaurus sitting lightly on a clutch of eggs is only fit for Gary Larson cartoons. It has been suggested that small dinosaurs such as Oviraptor may have incubated eggs, as several skeletons have been found associated with clutches of eggs. However, given the positions of the egg clutches, it is unlikely Oviraptor was brooding eggs similar to birds, as few of the eggs could have been in the direct contact with the body. It is more likely that Oviraptor was guarding the eggs from marauding predators. [25]

While many scientists have theorized that dinosaur eggs were laid in the open, in small depressions or ditches, this would have left them open to predation unless guarded constantly by a parent. Deeming has analyzed pore areas on dinosaur eggshells, and concluded that the large pore area must reflect an environment of very high humidity, and suggests that dinosaurs buried their eggs in mounds of earth or organic material. [26]

Why the Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians and Mammals Survived, but the Non‐Avian Dinosaurs Did Not

A global cooling of ~10C for a few decades caused by either asteroid impact or Deccan volcanism, as is well within present predictions, would have a highly differential effect on survival between mammals, reptiles, amphibians and dinosaurs if we make the following assumptions: 1) late Cretaceous birds had developed incubation of eggs by direct body contact, and 2) non‐avian dinosaurs had egg developmental temperature requirements similar to avian dinosaurs. Dinosaurs had 150 million years of unchanging, steady, and remarkably even temperatures across the globe. Non‐avian dinosaur eggs with evolved incubation temperature requirements similar to present birds would have experienced regular hatching success, even at very high latitudes, so long as eggs were laid in the warm season. Whether laid in the open, or in nesting mounds, the long summer days of 30C and higher temperatures would assure a reasonable hatch rate.

A sudden drop in temperature from 30C to 20C average temperatures, while not fatal to the dinosaurs themselves, would have been catastrophic to their eggs. For season after season, dinosaurs would have guarded cold clutches of eggs, never hatching, to finally see them decay or be eaten by scavengers. The eggs either having been killed by minimum temperatures, or never having reached developmental incubation temperatures for sufficient time. If the global cooling period was short enough, perhaps a few aging mothers finally, after years, saw their progeny emerge from their eggs, only for the youngsters to be unable to find mates in the land decimated by effects of asteroid impact or extreme volcanism. If the cooling period was long enough, the dinosaurs that were young on the day of the impact would fight, grow old, and finally fall without ever having seen a new hatchling emerge. Dinosaurs, the undisputed masters of the earth for 100 million years, were extinguished by a few decades of cold weather.

With the exception of the birds, of course; why did birds develop incubation by direct body contact? Perhaps brooding evolved because the relatively small size of their egg would subject the egg to more degradation from thermal changes than their larger cousins, and body heat incubation would help insure a good hatch rate. Perhaps avoiding predators by nesting in trees resulted in nests that forced the bird, if it were to protect the eggs, to literally sit on the eggs. Bird nests made of grass or other organic debris would have provided insulation from the surrounding cold earth, making incubation by body contact all that more effective. Dinosaur eggs partially buried in earth substrate would have perished, even if partially incubated by body contact, as the surrounding soil temperature plummeted. Dinosaur eggs buried in mounds of earth or organic material would also perish as the chill from the surrounding environment cooled the mounds.

The same catastrophe would not occur for turtles, crocodiles, lizards, snakes and other reptiles following the asteroid impact. So long as the cooling was not very severe (> 20C), the sudden cooling would have probably reduced hatch rates, and increased time to hatch, and perhaps reduced the viability of the hatched offspring, but hatched offspring would occur. In addition, the lower metabolic requirements for exothermic reptiles would have been a key survival trait in the post‐impact desolation. Some present day snakes have been known to survive a year without eating.

In a dark and cold world, the reproductive strategy of mammals would be a distinct advantage, with progeny being incubated internally, and then nursed next to the warm mother’s body. The global cooling would have no effect in itself on reproduction. The remaining egg laying mammals, the Monotremes, are a case in point. Of the two remaining species, the echidnas possess a separate pouch where they incubate their eggs and nurse their young, while the egg of the platypus spends about 28 days in the uterus, and only 10 days in warm external incubation. The global cooling could perhaps also help explain why many more placental mammal species survived the K‐T boundary extinction than marsupial mammal species. Marsupials at birth are tiny, wet, hairless things that must make the long journey up their mother’s body to the pouch, a journey that takes 3 to 5 minutes for a kangaroo joey. For a newborn Virginia Opposum, which weighs only 1/10th of a gram, so small that dozens can fit in a teaspoon, perhaps the journey in a cold environment was too much for some.

Other Theories Exploring Differential Survival across the KT Boundary

The list of theories attempting to explain the extinction of the dinosaurs is long and often silly. Many catastrophes that might befall the dinosaurs have been dreamed of, but most fail to answer the more important question, why did some survive? Alvarez [27] writes, ‘‘Many smaller land animals survived, including mammals, as well as reptiles such as crocodiles and turtles. No one really understands why these animals escaped extinction.’’ While Powell [28] notes, ‘‘No one has yet been able to explain under any theory why the crocodiles and turtles survived and the dinosaurs did not”.

One serious attempt to answer this question was made by Robertson, who argues that ballistically reentering ejecta from the Chicxulub impact caused an intense infrared radiation pulse in the sky ‘‘of the order of 10 kW / square meter over periods ranging from one to several hours after the impact. These power levels are comparable to those obtained in a domesticoven set at broil”. Robertson further argues that this IR pulse might kill any unsheltered animal, and given the potential sheltering characteristics of small mammals and potentially turtles and other small creatures, the differential character of the extinctions might be explained. [29]

Since Robertson’s paper, the strength of this IR pulse has been questioned [30], and evidence of burrowing dinosaurs has appeared [31]. In addition, the IR pulse, while clearly a potentially devastating global event, may not adequately explain the differential survival of small dinosaurs over reptiles, or even larger dinosaurs which may have sheltered from the IR pulse in deep forest environments. Robertson theorizes on bird survival that birds sheltering in dense marsh vegetation survived. Certainly if animals survived in dense marsh vegetation, they would be expected to survive sheltered in deep forest environments, if the forests did not burn, which seems likely given recent data. [32]

Conclusion – And a Warning

Extinction in itself is, throughout geologic history, the norm rather than the exception. The fact that many species perished in the aftermath of the many environmental calamities that occurred around 65 million years ago is hardly surprising. The real question has always been the differential survival of species. Dinosaurs were the dominant land animals for over 100 million years, the dominant herbivores, the dominant predators, ranging from chicken size to the largest land animals that ever lived, adapted to every environment, and living on every continent from pole to pole. The question of how this dominance ended is important, as it is fully possible that without this extinction, dinosaurs would still rule the earth, and mammals might still be rat sized animals rustling through the underbrush.

This theory, if valid, is important for another reason. Today we face the potential of rapid climate change, with unknown and potentially unexpected consequences. A sudden climate change 65 million years ago may have exposed the dinosaurs Achilles’ heel: the need for a warm summer season to reproduce. Man today is the dominant land animal, numerous, on every continent, and adapted to every environment. Every species, even the strongest, eventually suffers extinction. Do we, as a species, have an Achilles’ heel, and if so, will we recognize it in time?

[Ref: [1] “Will the real dinosaurs stand up?”, BBC, September 17, 2008
[2] Schulte et al., “Response–Cretaceous Extinctions”, Science 21 May 2010
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[4] Steven R. Beissinger, Mark I. Cook, Wayne J. Arendt, “The shelf life of bird eggs: testing egg viability using a tropical climate gradient” Ecology, 86(8), 2005, pp. 2164–
[5] White F. N., J.L. Kinney, “Avian incubation”, 1974, Science 186: 107-l 15.
[6] “Miller KG, Kominz MA, Browning JV, Wright JD, Mountain GS, Katz ME, Sugarman PJ, Cramer BS, Christie-Blick N, Pekar SF, The Phanerozoic record of global sea-level change”, (2005). Science 310 (5752): 1293–8.
[7] Berriasian, Valanginian, Hauterivian)”, McArthura JM, Janssenb NMM, Rebouletc S, Lengd MJ, Thirlwalle MF & van de Shootbruggef B, “Palaeotemperatures, polar ice-volume, and isotope stratigraphy (Mg/Ca, δ18O, δ13C, 87Sr/86Sr): The Early Cretaceous” ((2007).. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 248: 391–430
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[10] Packard, G. C. and Packard, M. J., “The physiological ecology of reptilian eggs and embryos”, (1988). In Biology of the Reptilia, vol. 16 (ed. C. Gans and R. B. Huey), pp. 523-605. New York: A. Liss.
[11] Richard Shine, “Eggs in autumn: responses to declining incubation temperatures by the eggs of montane lizards”, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, Volume 76, Number 1, May 2002 , pp. 71-77(7)
[12] Wei-Guo Du1, Rajkumar S. Radder, Bo Sun and Richard Shine, “Determinants of incubation period: do reptilian embryos hatch after a fixed total number of heart beats?”, The Journal of Experimental Biology 212, 1302-1306, Published by The Company of Biologists 2009
[13] Paladino, Frank V. , “Temperature-Dependent Sex Determination in Dinosaurs?”, Geological Society of America 238 (1989): 63-69.
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[15] Clarke, Julia A., “Morphology, Phylogenetic Taxonomy, and Systematics of Ichthyornis and Apatornis (Avialae: Ornithurae)”, (2004): Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 286: 1-179
[16] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palaeognathae#Evolution
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[18] Elisabetta Pierazzo, Andrea N. Hahmann, Lisa C. Sloan, “Chicxulub and Climate: Radiative Perturbations of Impact-Produced S-Bearing Gases”,. Astrobiology. January 2003
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Mars Mysteries and Need of Human Exploration

Manned mission to Mars : Ascent stage (NASA Hu...

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Mars has been a mystery from a longtime ever since we have started to envision life thereon the Mars. Here is an excellent article from Markus Hotakainen, explaining the necessity of human exploration to Mars.

By Markus Hotakainen

1. Introduction

Until now Mars probes, orbital or vehicular, have been controlled by a combination of onboard software and radio communication with Earth-based humans. The main focus of interest has been the geological character of the planet (Levine et al., 2010a,b). However, there are many unexplained anomalies which are also deserving of attention and the close inspection of trained teams of astronauts.

The geological processes which characterize Mars are similar to and familiar from Earth (Levine 2010a,b). The principle of the past being the key to the present is applicable on the large scale. With a surface area similar to that of all the continents of Earth and a readily observable geological record of billions of years, Mars is a treasure-trove for planetary research, both of the planet itself, with relation to Earth, and in connection with the origin and evolution of the Solar System as a whole.

However, the exploration of Mars has to take into account the fact that during most of its evolution the conditions have been crucially different from those of the ancient and present-day Earth, which means similar processes could have led to different outcomes.Indeed, it is not just geology and biology, but the fact there are many unexplained Martian anomalies which require trained field scientists. For example, there is a wealth of enigmatic features on Mars defying any simple and straight-forward explanations. Many of these features will keep their secrets until human presence. Even the most sophisticated robotic probes with most advanced artificial intelligence lack – at least for the moment – the ingenuity and creativity of the human mind.

Thus the next step in the exploration of our planetary neighbor, should be a human mission to Mars and the landing a human crew, whose observations will certainly go beyond questions of geology but will also seek to determine whether life in any form exists on the planet today, or has existed in the past. Recent discoveries in the biological sciences have conclusively demonstrated that living organisms are capable of surviving in extreme conditions, and this means we cannot rule out the possibility that some form of organic life exists on Mars even in the conditions that prevail today. In terms of a search for evidence, there are a number of intriguing candidates for a landing site and base camp. Such sites would include proximity to water in the form of ice, which exists at the poles and also likely within the confines of some craters; all of which may harbor life.

Consequently exploring the anomalies of Mars could potentially give new insight into the geological and biological history of Mars and Earth. However, this would require human presence, as advocated by astronauts Dr. Edgar Mitchell (Mitchell & REF) and Dr. Harrison Schmitt (2010). Astronaut Schmitt is a trained geologist and the last man to step upon the surface of the Moon and he argues that it is imperative that field geologists accompany the first astronauts to Mars (Schmitt 2010). It is because of this astronaut geologist, and the human presence on the Moon, that the Apollo program contributed to many important discoveries giving clues to the birth and evolution of our cosmic companion.

Tracks to be followed. Robotic rovers – Sojourner, Opportunity, and Spirit – have paved a way to manned exploration of Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell

2. Wet Mars

One of the most intriguing questions in the study of Mars has been and still is the existence of water. It is the most important substance making the difference as well as the similarity between Mars and Earth. The currently cold and arid Mars has experienced a period (or periods) of warmer and wetter climate with a considerably thicker atmosphere (Morris et al. 2010).

The images acquired with the high-resolution cameras of several probes launched during the past decade and a half – Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey, and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter of NASA, and Mars Express of ESA – and the research conducted on the surface with the rovers – Sojourner, Opportunity, and Spirit – have proved that there has been water on the surface of Mars: lots of water (Carter et al. 2010; Di Achille 2010). And recent studies of the carbon and oxygen isotopes of the atmospheric CO2 suggests that there has been low-temperature interaction between water and rocks throughout the Martian history (Niles et al. 2010).

The surface of Mars is covered with different kinds of signatures of past water from narrow gullies on the walls of craters and slopes of hills and dunes through dried river beds and valleys carved by water to vast, smooth areas reminiscent of ocean floors. However, whether all of these formations are due to water (or ice) is still a matter of dispute, and other explanations like cryoclastic phenomena and gas-supported density flows have been brought forth (Hoffman 2000).

On the pole-facing slopes of the dunes in Russell Crater on the southern hemisphere of Mars there are narrow gullies side by side. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

 

In many cases the surface anomalies – just like the more ordinary features – are seemingly the result of flowing water or melting ice, coupled with perhaps tricks of light and shadow and the propensity of the human imagination to conjure forth not just what is, but what might be. However, dismissing these anomalies as illusions or to assume they are the result of natural geological forces, is not in the spirit of science. Assumptions, be they pro or con, are not the same as facts. Rather, these surface anomalies require serious consideration and investigation which in turn would lead to the advancement of science, and lead to a greater understanding of planetary geology and the cause and origins of these anomalies.

3. Martian Arctic Ocean

The most prominent anomaly of Mars is the dichotomy between the northern and southern hemispheres. The southern highlands are covered with craters of all sizes, the northern lowlands are exceptionally flat and smooth. There is also an average difference of 4 kilometers in their elevations (Kiefer, 2008).

The highland-lowland dichotomy boundary of Mars is at most places – like in this area near Medusa Fossae – very apparent. Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

 

One of the theories is that there had been a vast Martian ocean covering most of the northern hemisphere. An ocean of Martian water would explain the smoothness. However, if there had been a Northern ocean, then where are the ancient shorelines? Shorelines should be evident at the borderline between the highlands and the lowlands. Although many have claimed to have detected these palaeoshorelines (Parker et al. 1993), these claims are in most cases controversial to say the least. If there had been ancient oceans, perhaps the shorelines have disappeared after being blanketed by later sedimentation. Or perhaps the failure to find conclusive evidence is due to the insufficient resolution of the imaging instrumentation of the probes. Trained field observers, could provide the answers.

The existence of an ancient ocean is further implied by the distribution of ancient deltas dilineating the margins of the northern lowlands. The level of these deltas is consistent with the possible palaeoshorelines indicated by the analysis of other morphological and topographical features, as well as the distribution and age of valley networks on the surface of Mars (Di Achille 2010).

Also the recent detection of hydrated silicates in the northern plains indicates a past presence of large amounts of water. The silicates have been known to exist on the southern highlands implying wet conditions early in the history of Mars, but now the same goes with the northern highlands. The ancient deposits of these hydrated silicates, being mostly phyllosilicates, excavated at places by impact cratering, are covered with hundreds of metres of later sedimentation (Carter et al. 2010).

Perhaps the answers concerning the existence of the ancient ocean could be obtained by sophisticated high-resolution cameras and deep-range radars onboard an orbiting craft. However, these answers may not be obtained without in-situ exploration, including deep drilling, which would be difficult to accomplish without human presence.

Finding a landing site with the highest potential to give an answer to this question on the existence of an ancient sea might also prove difficult. The borderline between the highlands and lowlands is at many places a very steep slope making it unsuitable for landing a manned craft. However, there is an area with not only an appropriate location, but a wealth of enigmatic features.

4. Cydonian Complex

The first feature to arouse the interest of both the scientific community and the general public was the detection of a “face-like” anomaly in the area known as Cydonia, a plain in a transitional region between heavily cratered southern highlands and the smooth northern lowlands; the so called “Face of Mars”. It was photographed by the Viking 1 Orbiter in July 1976 while making detailed imaging for the selection of the landing site for the Viking 1 Lander.

The unusual mesas of the Cydonia region has led to wild speculation on their origin. The infamous “Face of Mars” is near the lower right-hand corner of this image. [Credit: Mars Express/ESA

The image of the “Face” gained immediately great publicity and a keen interest in, along with various speculations on, the origin of the familiar looking formation. There are strong advocates for the interpretation that this feature with a length of 2,5 kilometres and a height of 250 metres is artificial, being some kind of a vast monument or perhaps a cenotaph. Later images taken by various orbiters having instruments with higher resolution than those onboard Viking 1 has lent credence to the view of the Face being a natural formation, a rocky hill or mesa with crevices on top simulating the features of a giant face staring upward from the Martian surface.

The “Face of Mars” is not the only formation on the Cydonia plain having created both interest and controversy. Some of them have been seen as further evidence for the existence of an ancient, intelligent civilization on Mars. There are numerous formations reminiscent of eroded pyramids, ruined castles, and other structures claimed to have an artificial origin. However, the evidence for the artificiality of these formations, along with the “Face of Mars”, is not nearly conclusive enough, and the general view is that they are natural products of geologic processes. Nevertheless, the structural anomalies on the Cydonia plain are well worth a thorough investigation because of both their fame and the contribution their study would give to our knowledge on Mars and various processes shaping its surface – whatever the outcome.

The exploration of Cydonia would also give information on the nature of the borderline between the rugged south and smooth north. The area is possibly an ancient coastline with several processes having affected its evolution either concurrently or consecutively – or both. Landing a manned mission on the Cydonia plain would – in addition to the obvious impact on the imagination of the public and media – enable extensive studies of the ancient shoreline and its alterations. This could also shed light on the climate change which caused the transformation of a temperate planet into a frozen celestial object, a kind of “Museum of Water”. Situated on the mid-latitudes (40°N) Cydonia would also be an ideal target for the studies on the effects of the variability in the obliquity of the rotational axis of Mars.

At the moment the inclination is very close to that of Earth – 25°11’ of Mars compared with 23°59’ of Earth – but it has been known a long time that there is a variability of at least 20 degrees over a period of approximately 100 000 years (Ward 1973). However, the variability seems to be chaotic, and during periods of tens of millions of years the inclination could have changed several tens of degrees (Touma et al. 1993). Because of the chaotic nature of the variability it is impossible to track it precisely for more than a few million years into the past, but with statistical methods it is possible to analyze the history of these variations. The value for the maximum of the obliquity is 82°, and the probability for the obliquity having reached 60° during the past 1 billion years is 63 %, and during the past 3 billion years as high as 89 % (Laskar et al. 2004).

This kind of variation has had a dramatic effect on the climate of Mars in the past, and most probably is still having: the variability of the inclination is continuous. While the inclination is small and the planet rotates in an upright position, the polar areas receive much less solar energy than the lower latitudes, and are thus much colder. When the inclination increases, the poles receiving more solar energy warm up, but the equatorial regions cool down.

This variability is the probable cause for the presence of the large reservoirs of near-surface ice in high latitudes of both northern and southern hemispheres of Mars. While the obliquity is high, there is an accumulation of ice, most probably even in the form of glaciers, to the equatorial regions, but during low obliquity, the sublimation of these reservoirs results in deposition of ice to the high latitudes and polar regions (Levrard et al. 2004; Forget et al. 2006).

With a thicker atmosphere in the past this has affected the state of water and consecutively the sea level of the Arctic Ocean, but also the migration of water from the polar areas to the mid- and low- latitudes (Haberle et al., 2004). This in turn could be inferred from the current depth and thickness of permafrost present also beneath the surface of Cydonia.

5. Noctic Labyrinthus

Noctis Labyrinthus just south of the equator of Mars is a place of major upheaval – or “downfall” to be precise. It is an area of large mesas, broad and flat-topped mountains and hills with steep clifflike slopes, called “chaotic terrain”. According to early theories this chaotic terrain formed when large amounts of subsurface ice suddenly melted with the water flowing off (Carr and Schaber 1977) or groundwater being released from aquifers to create large outflows (Carr 1979), and the terrain collapsing as a result.

Noctis Labyrinthus east of the Tharsis region is a large area of “chaotic terrain”. [Credit: Viking/NASA/JPL/USGS

 

However, there is still no final word on the process creating these features, but water has certainly played a key role in the evolution of the area as shown by the hydrated minerals found in the area (Thollot et al. 2010). Presumably the melting of ice was caused by volcanic activity: Noctis Labyrinthus is adjacent to the Tharsis highlands having many giant volcanoes. An examination of this vast and varied area would yield information on the similar features observed in a smaller scale, like Reull Vallis close to the Hadriaca Patera volcano and several others.In between the flat-topped mesas of Noctis Labyrinthus there are deep depressions formed by outflow of water and collapse of the ground.[Credit: Mars Express/ESA]

Landing a manned mission in Noctis Labyrinthus would offer an opportunity to study the origin and evolution of the chaotic terrain characteristic of the area. It would be a challenge to make a pin-point landing to avoid the hazards of the rough surface. However, in 1969, Apollo 12 landed right on target, less than 200 meters from the Surveyor 3 probe sent to the Moon 2,5 years earlier. Pin-point landings on a distant celestial body are not impossible.

The average depth of Noctis Labyrinthus is about 5 km (Bistachi et al. 2004), so the atmospheric pressure, albeit still very low, would still be above average. Whether the net effect of it would be positive or negative as to the manned mission, is uncertain. Some areas of exploration like meteorology would benefit from the local climate of the valleys – condensate clouds made of water-ice crystals form in this region rather regularly – but this is also an area of dust storm activity.

Early morning water clouds in and around the canyons of Noctis Labyrinthus.[Credit:  Viking/USGS/JPL/NASA]

Noctis Labyrinthus could have a definite benefit for a manned mission. There is a possibility for an existence of caves, carved either by the flash floods caused by the sudden melting of subsurface ice, or volcanic flows forming lava tunnels. If existent, they would offer a natural shelter against the ultraviolet radiation of the Sun and the bombardment of the cosmic rays. Otherwise they both would require either a heavily shielded landing craft or a base camp dug beneath the surface. Because of increased mass of the craft these alternatives would make a manned mission more challenging both technically and economically. Noctis Labyrinthus would be interesting also because of its proximity to two extensive surface features with a history still largely unknown: Tharsis and Valles Marineris. The former is evidently of volcanic origin – there are four giant volcanoes on top of Tharsis – and Valles Marineris was formed by rift faults in the crust of Mars, thus being similar to the East African Rift Valley (Hauber et al. 2010), which has later been expanded because of erosion and massive landslides: it is a sign of a kind of “failed” tectonism. It is still unknown whether they are related to each other, and if so, how; and whether either is caused by the other, or are they both caused by some process even more global than either of them.

6. Polar Expedition

Landing on the polar regions would offer an excellent opportunity to explore the enigmatic and simultaneously variable surface features on the high latitudes of Mars. There are theories on how the polar formations like polygons, “spiders”, “forests”, and “swiss cheese”, related to the sublimation of either water or CO2 ice or both, and also larger, but still continuously evolving features like dune fields are formed, but to organize geological field trips to the most interesting of these areas might answer the question of the origin of these formations.

Geysers of CO2 carrying dust from the subsurface create curious patterns in the polar areas. Credit: MRO/NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
The cause of “Swiss cheese terrain” found only near the southern polar cap are believed to be the differences in the rate of the seasonal changes of the CO2 and water ices. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

 

 

Polygons on the “patterned ground” are reminiscent of the phenomena in the Arctic regions of Earth originating from the changes in the subsurface ice. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

 

The polar regions of Mars are under continuous change. With the seasons the carbon dioxide migrates through the tenuous atmosphere from one pole to the other giving rise to a regular variation in the appearance of the polar caps (Smith et al. 2009). While the southern cap completely disappears during the spring of the southern hemisphere, the residual water ice of the northern one holds through the somewhat colder spring and summer of the northern hemisphere.

The retreating ice is annually leaving behind strange formations the nature and especially the birth processes of which are still largely unknown. The future missions to Mars will – and most probably has to – “live off the land” to the largest possible extent, so landing on or near the polar regions would be a viable option. Water in the form a permafrost is found more or less everywhere on Mars, but on the polar regions, as the Phoenix lander in 2008 proved, it is only few centimeters below the surface thus making it easy to reach and utilize (Smith et al 2009).

Phoenix probe landed on water ice covered with only a thin layer of dust and sand. Credit: Kenneth Kramer, Marco Di Lorenzo, NASA/JPL/UA,Max Placnk Institute

 

However, landing on the polar regions might prove too hazardous because of potential dust storms, landslides, and the CO2 ice covering the ground in winter. To avoid any unnecessary and foreseeable risks it might be more practical to establish a base camp on a safer area, but still within easy reach of the places of interest. This would require reliable and fast enough mode of transportation for the astronauts to be able to explore the area within the time-limit set by the duration of both the stay on the surface of Mars and the changing seasons.

7. Acidalian Mud

A question even more intriguing than the past and present existence of water on Mars – but closely related to it – is the one about life on Mars. Despite promising, yet controversial findings in meteorites originated from Mars (Thomas-Keprta 2009), there are no definite proofs neither for the existence nor non-existence of life.

The surface conditions of present-day Mars are very hostile to life or any organic matter, but in the warmer and wetter past there might have been abodes for life to emerge. Whether the conditions have been favorable for long enough time for life to evolve is another matter of dispute, but if there has been life of any kind, based on the current knowlegde it must have been related with the existence of water. One of the potentially promising areas for finding signs of life is Acidalia Planitia. Along with several other areas on the northern lowlands like Utopia, Isidis, and Chryse Planitia, Acidalia is covered in many places with formations resembling very much the mud volcanoes found on Earth. The latest research implies that the number of these potential mud volcanoes is almost 20 000, perhaps even 40 000 (Oehler and Allen 2010).

[Image:  Possible mud volcanoes found on Mars could give clues to the ancient Martian life – if there was any. Credit: HiRISE/MRO/LPL (U. Arizona)/NASA]

The mud volcanoes are formed by pressurized subsurface gas or liquid erupting to the surface carrying with it material from depths of up the several kilometres. It is possible that there has been – or even today could be – reservoirs of liquid water beneath the thick layer of permafrost; they could have been favorable for bacterial life similar to the extremophiles on Earth. If this is the case, there might still be organic material to be found in the mud and gravel transported to the surface by the eruptions.

Albeit being relatively young, perhaps late Hesperian or early Amazonian, decuded from the fact that they overlap older formations (Tanaka et al. 2005), the mud volcanoes of Acidalia are still two to three billion years old. The strong radiation and surface chemistry would have destroyed any evidence of organic matter, but inside the flat domes with diameters of one kilometre and heights of some 200 metres on average (Oehler and Allen 2010), there might still be some evidence of life to be found. However, reaching it would require, as in the case of the ancient shoreline of the Arctic Ocean, an expedition equipped with drilling machinery.

8. Clays of Mawrth Vallis

One of the oldest valleys on Mars, Mawrth Vallis, could also be potential site for finding signs of ancient Martian life. Recently is has been observed to bear evidence for a prolonged existence of aquatic environment very early in the history of Mars, when the climate of the planet was more temperate, and potentially suitable for life (Poulet et al. 2005).

A stable and long-term presence of large quantities of liquid water is implied by the deposits of hydrated minerals the formation of which requires wet conditions. However, there are different kinds of hydrated minerals, namely phyllosilicates and hydrated sulphates, which have their origins in different kinds of processes. Phyllosilicates, for example clay, are formed by alteration of minerals of magmatic origin having been in contact with water for a considerable length of time. On the other hand, hydrated sulphates are deposits formed from salted water, and their formation requires acidic environment, but not extended periods of contact with water.

[Image: Mawrth Vallis has Noachian deposits of phyllosilicate minerals with a possibility to find evidence on Martian life. Credit: HiRISE/MRO/LPL (U. Arizona)/NASA]

The detection of phyllosilicates in Mawrth Vallis strongly implies that there has been water on the surface of Mars for extended periods of time in the earliest, the Noachian era, of its evolution, long before the global climate change making Mars a less habitable planet. On Earth the clay minerals are capable of preserving microscopic life, so a thorough examination of the phyllosilicates on Mars could give an answer to the question concerning ancient life on the red planet.

9. Olympus Mons

Another possible landing site for a manned mission with a great potential to capture the imagination of the general public, but not in anyway without scientific benefits would be Olympus Mons, the highest mountain in the Solar System. It could be a key to several questions concerning both the ancient and recent history of Mars.

[Image:  Olympus Mons, the highest mountain in the Solar System, has possibly been active until rather recently, only few million years ago. Credit: Viking/USGS/JPL/NASA]

Olympus Mons is the greatest of the Tharsis volcanoes not only by height, but by the volume of erupted lava and by the time span there has been eruptions. The formation of the mountain is very similar with those on the Hawaiian islands, but because of the lack of plate tectonics on Mars, the volcanic hot spot has been immobile, and the lava has accumulated into just one gigantic mountain.

Based on research made on the aureole surrounding the mountain the origins of Olympus Mons have been dated to the Hesperian era (Fuller and Head 2003), so it is at least 2 billion years old, but there are volcanic flows with an age of just tens of millions, perhaps only few million years (Neukum et al. 2004). In addition to being active until geologically very recently, the volcanic activity has been episodic.

Making detailed studies on the different lava layers on Olympus Mons would enable dating the different stages in the evolution of the mountain with a better accuracy than the current estimates based on crater counts, and trying to find the cause for the periodical behaviour – and possibly for the formation of the Tharsis region as a whole.

Olympus Mons is often shrouded with CO2 ice clouds making it an ideal site also for meteorological observations. The nature of the clouds – composition, density, temperature – could be measured readily with a possibility to take samples of the ice crystals making up the clouds. The size of the mountain is such, that it has a major effect on the air currents and wind patterns in the atmosphere of Mars, and consequently on the Martian weather (Wolkenberg 2008). To make direct observations on the spot of origin of these effects would help develop more detailed models for both global and local weather phenomena.

All this could be done with robotic probes, but Olympus Mons might offer an extra benefit for a future base camp. The slopes of the mountain could hide a number of caves formed by collapsed lava tunnels. Just like in the case of Noctic Labyrinthus these would offer a natural shelter against the harsh radiation environment on the surface of Mars. The great height of Olympus Mons would also keep a base camp well above all but the largest, global dust storms.

A mountain with a summit rising 25 kilometres higher than the surrounding landscape might appear as an extremely challenging site for any, especially manned, mission and the activities related with it. In reality the slopes of the mountain – apart from the steep cliffs especially on the eastern flank of the mountain – are very gentle, with a gradient of only few degrees. Together with the low gravity of Mars of some 40 % that of Earth this would result in an easy traversing on Olympus Mons, not so much going uphill or downhill, but only walking or driving around.

The obvious downside of Olympus Mons as a potential landing site for a manned mission is the very probable lack of subsurface ice to be exploited by the expedition. If there were any ice, it would be very deep in the ground and practically unattainable without very heavy machinery.

10. Selecting the Target

Making the selection between various options for the landing site of a manned mission to Mars aimed at exploring the surface anomalies will not be a simple task. The arguments to be taken into account include both the safety and practicality of the mission, and the possibility to make in-situ studies with scientific results increasing our knowledge on the anomalies specifically and on the evolution of Mars in general. However, trying to meet these criteria is an effort worth making.

There are many reasons why future manned missions to Mars must include among their primary objectives the exploration and examination of these surface anomalies: to explore their true nature, to solve their origin, to find out their importance in the geologic evolution of the planet, and – not the least important of the reasons – to feed the imagination of general public and keep up public interest in continued exploration of our planetary neighbor.

[Credit: Journal of  Cosmology]

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