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.


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

Rogue Planets Could Harbour Life!

In recent years, computers have become powerful enough to simulate the formation and evolution of planetary systems over many billions of years. One of the surprises to come out this work is that planets are regularly kicked out of these systems by slingshot effects. By some calculations, this fate may still await planets in our own Solar System. One interesting question is whether these so-called “rogue planets” could ever support life in the cold dark reaches of interstellar space.

Today, Dorian Abbot and Eric Switzer at the University of Chicago give us an answer. The generally accepted criteria for life is the presence of liquid water. They calculate that an Earth-like rogue planet could support liquid oceans if the water were heated from below by the planet’s core and insulated from above by a thick layer of ice. Their reasoning is straightforward. They define an Earth-like planet to have dimensions within an order of magnitude of Earth’s and having a similar composition. They then calculate the heat flux from the core and suggest that the thickness of the ice above would reach a steady state in about a million years. That’s much shorter than the lifetime of a hot core.

Note that this is some what different from the mechanism that keeps the subglacial ocean on Europa liquid. Here tidal forces play an important role and this generates heat within the ocean itself. By contrast, all the heat must come from the core of a rogue planet and travel through the ocean, One important unknown is the role that convection and conduction play in the less viscous regions of ice. Since convection carries heat much more quickly than conduction, this is an important factor and could potentially make the difference between the existence of liquid oceans or solid ice.

But with reasonable assumptions Abbot and Switzer say that a planet just 3.5 times the mass of Earth could maintain a liquid ocean. Even more surprising is their conclusion that a planet with a higher fraction of water need only be 0.3 times the size of Earth and still have a liquid ocean. That’s smaller than Venus but bigger than Mars. They call such a body a Steppen wolf planet “since any life in this strange habitat would exist like a lone wolf wandering the galactic steppe.” It’s not hard imagine the possibility of life evolving around hydrothermal vents before the planet’s ejection or even afterwards. These are exciting calculations.

Steppenwolf planets would provide one way for life to spread through the galaxy. And if any come within a 1000 AU of our Sun, the reflected sunlight from them ought to be visible in the far infrared to the next generation of telescopes.That raises an interesting idea: the possibility of visiting such a place. Any passers by would certainly be easier to get to than planets orbiting other stars.

Time to get out the binoculars and lens cloths and start looking.

[Ref:arxiv.org/abs/1102.1108: The Steppenwolf: A Proposal For A Habitable Planet in Interstellar Space, Credit: Arxiv Blog]

Video: Feasibility of Interstellar Travel and Nature of Existence

As we know that interstellar travel is more difficult than one can dream. Here is a video reflecting some new projects that could be hailed as having potential to sustain exploration on exoplanet.

The nature of Existence

Search for habitable planets and Alien life


Seti’s Hunt For Artificially Intelligent Alien Machines


The structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), ...

Image via Wikipedia


Searching for extraterrestrial life is extremely abstemious no matter what kind of tactics we are employing to detect signs of extraterrestrial life. Wait, shouldn’t we define our premise of  being intelligent without any kind of  surmised indulgence. The search so far has focused on Earth-like life because that is all we know. Hence, most of the planning missions are focused on locations where liquid water is possible, emphasizing searches for structures that resemble cells of terran organisms, small molecules that might be the products of carbonyl metabolism and amino acids and nucleotides similar to those found in terrestrial proteins and DNA. I’ve written a article, not quite a while back though, ‘Searching For Other Life Forms in Extraterrestrial Environments’ in which I’ve illustrated that life could be a sort of  ‘organized complexity’ that consumes energy, utilized it for some necessary biological/non-biological operations endowed with capability to reproduce ‘itself’  from ‘self’. S o if we really want to alien life forms which are conscious and intelligent, we have to change the view that is mainly inclined to see life only like that is diversed over Earth.

However, life that may have been originated elsewhere, even within our own solar system, could be unrecognizable compared with life here and thus could not be detectable by telescopes and spacecraft landers designed to detect terrestrial biomolecules or their products. We must recognize that our knowledge of the essential requirements for life and therefore our concept on it, is based on our understanding of the biosphere during the later stages of Earth history. Since we only know one example of biomolecular structures for life and considering the difficulty of human mind to create different ideas from what it already knows, it is difficult for us to imagine how life might look in environments very different from what we find on Earth. In the last decades, however, experiments in the laboratory and theoretical works are suggesting that life might be based on molecular structures substantially different from those we know.

It is a relatively simple matter to distinguish between living and inorganic matter on Earth by biochemical experiments even though no formal definition of  life in biochemical terms exists. Experience suggests, for example, that a system capable of converting water, atmospheric nitrogen and carbon dioxide into protein, using light as a source of energy, is unlikely to be inorganic. This approach for recognition of life by phenomenology is the basis of the experiments in detection of life so far proposed. Its weakness lies not in the lack of a formal definition but in the assumption that all life has a common biochemical ancestry.

It is also possible to distinguish living from inorganic matter by physical experiments. For example, an examination of the motion of a salmon swimming upstream suggests a degree of purpose inconsistent with a random inorganic process. The physical approach to recognition of life is no more rigorous, at this stage, than is the biochemical one; it is, however, universal in application and not subject to the local constraints which may have set the biochemical pattern of life on Earth.

Past discussions of the physical basis of life  reach an agreed classification as follows:

“Life is one member of the class of phenomena which are open or continuous reaction systems able to decrease their entropy at the expense of substances or energy taken in from the environment and subsequently rejected in a degraded form”.

This classification is broad and includes also phenomena such as flames, vortex motion and many others. Life differs from the other phenomena so classified in its singularity, persistence, and in the size of the entropy decrease associated with it. Vortices appear spontaneously but soon vanish; the entropy decrease associated with the formation of a vortex is small compared with energy flux. Life does not easily form, but ‘persists indefinitely and vastly modifies its environment. The spontaneous generation of life, according to recent calculations from quantum mechanics [4, 5], is extremely improbable. This is relevant to the present discussion through the implication that wherever life exists its biochemical form will be strongly determined by the initiating event. This in turn could vary with the planetary environment at the time of initiation.

On the basis of the physical phenomenology already mentioned, a planet bearing life is distinguishable from a sterile one as follows:

  • The omnipresence of intense orderliness and of structures and of events utterly improbable on a basis of thermodynamic equilibrium.
  • Extreme departures from an inorganic steady-state equilibrium of chemical potential.

This orderliness and chemical disequilibrium would to a diminished but still recognizable extent be expected to penetrate into the planetary surface and its past history as fossils and as rocks of biological origin. According to a research paper ‘Physical Basis For Detection of  Life'[Nature Vol. 207, No. 4997, pp. 568-570, August 7, 1965.] Chemical detection of life is indeed possible based on equilibrium and orderness. So, how should we search for life(here I’m not considering that this is necessarily a intelligent life).

The distinguishing features of a life-bearing planet  suggest the following simple experiments in detection of life:

A. Search for order.

  1. Order in chemical structures and sequences of structure. A simple gas chromatograph or a combined gas chromatograph – mass spectrometer instrument would seek ordered molecular sequences as well as chemical identities.
  2. Order in molecular weight distributions. Polymers of biological origin have sharply defined molecular weights, polymers of inorganic origin do not. A simple apparatus to seek ordered molecular weight distributions in soil has not yet been proposed but seems worthy of consideration.
  3. Looking and listening for order. A simple microphone is already proposed for other (meteorological) purposes on future planetary probes; this could also listen for ordered sequences of sound the presence of which would be strongly indicative of life. At the present stage of technical development a visual search is probably too complex ; it is nevertheless the most rapid and effective method of life recognition in terms of orderliness outside the bounds of random assembly.

B. Search for non-equilibrium.

  1. Chemical disequilibrium sought by a differential thermal analysis (DTA) apparatus. Two equal samples of the planetary surface would be heated in a DTA apparatus: one sample in the atmosphere of the planet, the other in an inert gas, such as argon. An exotherm on the differential signal between the two samples would indicate a reaction between the surface and its atmosphere, a condition most unlikely to be encountered{ where there is chemical equilibrium as in the absence of life. It should be noted that this method would recognize reoxidizing life on a planet with a reducing atmosphere. This experiment could with advantage and economy be combined with, for example, the gas chromatography mass spectrometry experiment (Al) where it is necessary to heat the sample for vaporization and pyrolysis.
  2. Atmospheric analysis. Search for the presence of compounds in the planet’s atmosphere which are incompatible on a long-term basis. For example, oxygen and hydrocarbons co-exist in the Earth’s atmosphere.
  3. Physical non-equilibrium. A simplified visual search apparatus programmed to recognize objects in non-random motion. A more complex assembly could recognize objects in metastable equilibrium with the gravitational field of the planet. Much of the plant life on Earth falls into this category.


The abundance of n-alkanes from an inorganic source (A), Fischer-Tropsch hydrocarbons, and from a biological source (B), wool wax. The observed abundances (•-•) are compared with normalized Poisson distributions (-) around the preponderant alkanea detection experiments and to the planning of subsequent experiments. Even on Earth whore life is abundant there are many regions, such as those covered by fresh snow, where a surface sample might be unrewarding in the search for life. The atmospheric composition is largely independent of the site of sampling and provides an averaged value representative of the steady state of chemical potential for the whole planetary surface.


Experiments A1, B1 and B2 are the most promising for the development of practical instruments. Indeed, the gas chromatography – mass spectrometry combination experiment and the DTA experiment already proposed for planetary probes are, with minor modifications, capable of recognizing the ordered sequences and chemical disequilibrium discussed earlier. Experiment B2, atmospheric analysis, is simple and practical as well as important in the general problem of detection of life. A detailed and accurate knowledge of the composition of the planetary atmosphere can directly indicate the presence of life in terms of chemical disequilibrium; such knowledge also is complementary to the understanding of other life.

Galactic Clubs

Paul Davies suggests the approach of observational SETI – which tries to detect narrow-band signals directed at Earth by an extraterrestrial civilization — is probably futile, because the existence of a communicating civilization on Earth will not be known to any alien community beyond 100 light years. Instead, he argues “we should search for any indicators of extraterrestrial intelligence, using the full panoply of scientific instrumentation, including physical traces of very ancient extraterrestrial projects in or near the solar system. Radio SETI needs to be re-oriented to the search for non-directed beacons, by staring toward the galactic center continuously over months or even years, and seeking distinctive transient events (‘pings’). This ‘new SETI’ should complement, not replace, traditional radio and optical SETI.  But on second thought, maybe these ideas are not all that fresh. I’ve read these suggestions before in the SETI literature. Indeed, I found most of them cited in his footnotes. Nevertheless we should thank Davies for assembling them in his stimulating and lucid new book.
What are the possible reasons for the “Great Silence”? The following list is of course not original:

1) We are indeed alone, or nearly so. There is no ETI, nor a “Galactic Club” — radio astronomer Ronald Bracewell’s name for the communicating network of advanced civilizations in our galaxy (GC for short).

2) The GC, or at least ETI exists, but is ignorant of our existence (as Davies has once again suggested).

3) We are unfit for membership in the GC, so the silence is deliberate, with a very strict protocol evident, “No Messages to Primitive Civilizations!” Only inadvertent, sporadic and non-repeated signals – for example, the “Wow” signal can be detected by a primitive civilization, with opaque signal content not distinguishable from natural signals or noise.

The first explanation is contrary to the subtext of astrobiology, the belief in quasi-deterministic astrophysical, planetary and biologic evolution. This view of life’s inevitability in the cosmos is a view (or, shall I admit, a prejudice) I heartedly endorse. Most scientists active in the astrobiological research program would support an optimistic estimate of all the probabilities leading up to multicellular life on an Earth-like planet around a Sun-like star.

I happen to be an optimist on this issue too. I have argued that encephalization – larger brain mass in comparison to body mass — and the potential for technical civilizations are not very rare results of self-organizing biospheres on Earth-like planets around Sun-like stars. Biotically-mediated climatic cooling creates the opportunity for big-brained multicellular organisms, such as the warm-blooded animals we observe on our planet. Note that several such animals have now been shown to pass the “mirror test” for self-consciousness: the great apes, elephants, dolphins and magpies, and the list is growing. But if the pessimists concede just one of the millions if not billions of Earth-like planets is the platform for just one technical civilization that matures to a planetary stage, advancing beyond our present primitive self-destructive stage, just one advanced civilization with the curiosity to spread through the galaxy, at sub-light speeds with Bracewell probes to explore and document an Encyclopedia Galactica, then what should we expect?
First, the galaxy should be thoroughly populated with surveillance outposts on a time scale much smaller than the time it took on Earth to produce this cosmically pathetic civilization we call the nearly 200 member nation states of the United Nations, with humanity now hanging under two self-constructed Swords of Damocles: the twin threats of catastrophic global warming and nuclear war.

Second, THEY, or at least their outposts, surely know we exist, since to believe THEY are ignorant of our existence is to assume they somehow bypassed us in their expansion into the galaxy, a scenario I simply find unworthy if not unbelievable for an advanced civilization, especially one in existence for millions if not billions of years. It is important to note that this conclusion is informed by present day physics and chemistry, not a post-Einstein theory that transcends the speed of light.

So we are left with option 3: the aliens are deliberately avoiding communicating with our primitive world. I submit this is by far the most plausible given our current knowledge of science and the likely sheer ordinariness of our chemistry and planetary organization.

Why would we be considered primitive? This should be a no-brainer, even for an Earthling. The world spends $1.4 trillion in military expenditures while millions of our species still die of preventable causes every year. Carbon emissions to the atmosphere continue to climb, even though presently available renewable technologies such as wind turbines exist and are sufficient to completely replace our unsustainable energy infrastructure. As J.D. Bernal once put it, “There is a possibility that the oldest and most advanced civilizations on distant stars have in fact reached the level of permanent intercommunication and have formed…a club of communicating intellects of which we have only just qualified for membership and are probably now having our credentials examined. In view of the present chaotic political and economic situation of the world, it is not by any means certain that we would be accepted.

The technical requirements for a galaxy-wide search are dictated by the size of the radio telescope, with the detection range proportional to the effective diameter of the telescope. A large enough radio telescope situated in space could potentially set meaningful upper limits on the rate of emergence of primitive Earth-like civilizations, without ever actually detecting the leakage radiation of even one ET civilization.  But just how big a telescope is required for this project, and at what cost? Our 1988 paper provided such estimates: a dish diameter on the order of 500 kilometers, at a cost of roughly $10 trillion. Perhaps the cost has come down somewhat (but note the estimate was in 1988 dollars). This is surely a project with a vanishingly small chance of implementation in today’s world. I could only conceive of a demilitarized newly mature planetary civilization, call it Earth-United (Finally!), with any intention of implementing such an ambitious project that has no apparent immediate practical benefits. Then and only then would we successively detect a message from the GC, presumably faint enough to be only detectable with a huge radio telescope in space.

On the other hand, the GC may be monitoring biotically-inhabited planets by remote Bracewell probes that have programmed instructions. Such a probe would plausibly be now hiding in the asteroid belt (as Michael Papagiannis once suggested). If the GC exists, there was ample time to set up this surveillance system long ago. Surveillance probes so situated in planetary systems would send welcoming signals to newly mature civilizations, with the potential for a real conversation with artificial intelligence constructed by the GC, if not reconstructed biological entities. If this proposed surveillance system is absent, we should expect the GC to use highly advanced telescopes to monitor planetary systems that have prospects for the emergence of intelligent life and technical civilizations. These alien telescopes could use gravitational lenses around stars. Planetary system candidates to the GC could expect to receive continuous beacons, but the signals would be very weak or disguised so that they would only be decipherable by newly mature civilizations that just pass the entrance requirements. The problem with this scenario is there would be a fairly long communication delay with the GC, because they would be so far away. Nevertheless, reception of a rich message from the GC is possible. The material and/or energy resources needed for these signals to be recognized must correspond with great probability to a newly ripe mature civilization. Hence, cleverness in itself cannot be the criteria for successful detection and decipherment, otherwise a brilliant scientist on a primitive civilization might jump the GC protocol.

I submit that if we want to enter the Galactic Club, the challenge lies in reconstructing our global political economy. A few minor side benefits should result, like no more war, no more poverty, a future for all of humanity’s children with a substantial proportion of biodiversity intact. We should not expect the Galactic Club to save us from ourselves.

Machine Intelligence

It took until the 17th century for us to reject Aristotle’s vision of a universe where our Sun and the stars revolved around the Earth. Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Senior Astronomer Seth Shostak points out that up until a century ago, the scientific community believed a vast engineering society was responsible for building an irrigation system on the surface of Mars. Discovering the Martians could, in principle, be done by simply turning an Earth-based telescope in the direction of the Red Planet. Now it seems that our best chance for finding Martian life is to dig deep into the surface in search of subterranean microbes.

Our idea of extraterrestrial life has changed drastically in 100 years, but our search strategies have not kept up. In his  paper “What ET will look like and why should we care?” for the November-December issue of Acta Astronautica, Shostak argues that SETI might be more successful if it shifts the search away from biology and focuses squarely on artificial intelligence. Shostak sees a clear distinction between life and intelligence: he says we should be searching for extraterrestrial machines.

ET machines would be infinitely more intelligent and durable than the biological intelligence that invented them. Intelligent machines would in a sense be immortal, or at least indefinitely repairable, and would not need to exist in the biologically hospitable “Goldilocks Zone” most SETI searches focus on. An AI could self-direct its own evolution. Every new instance of an AI would be created with the sum total of its predecessor’s knowledge preloaded. The machines would require two primary resources: energy to operate with and materials to maintain or advance their structure. Because of these requirements, Shostak thinks SETI ought to consider expanding its search to the energy- and matter-rich neighborhoods of hot stars, black holes and neutron stars.

Shostak further argues that Bok globules are another search target for sentient machines. These dense regions of dust and gas are notorious for producing multiple-star systems. At around negative 441 degrees Fahrenheit, they are about 160 degrees F colder than most of interstellar space. This climate could be a major draw because thermodynamics implies that machinery will be more efficient in cool regions that can function as a large “heat sink”. A Bok globule’s super-cooled environment might represent the Goldilocks Zone for the machines. But because black holes and Bok globules are not hospitable to life as we know it, they are not on SETI’s radar. Machines have different needs. They have no obvious limits to the length of their existence, and consequently could easily dominate the intelligence of the cosmos. In particular, since they can evolve on timescales far, far shorter than biological evolution, it could very well be that the first machines on the scene thoroughly dominate the intelligence in the galaxy. It’s a “winner take all” scenario.

I find Shostak’s claim that alien should be resting in super cold zones that can function a large heat sink, is equally as falsifiable. A machine indeed need a heat sink but only in its premordial age. Since aliens have created such kind of super intelligent machine that can comprehend and interact efficiently with our mysterious universe, it becomes necessary imitate the premise that such machines would more likely be self replicative. A replicative would more likely be resting somewhere near a asteroid belt from where it could get material to survive3 and self reproduce it on to.  A number of fundamental but far-reaching ethical issues are raised by the possible existence of replicating machines in the Galaxy. For instance, is it morally right, or equitable, for a self-reproducing machine to enter a foreign solar system and convert part of that system’s mass and energy to its own purposes? Does an intelligent race legally “own” its home sun, planets, asteroidal materials, moons, solar wind, and comets? Does it make a difference if the planets are inhabited by intelligent beings, and if so, is there some lower threshold of intellect below which a system may ethically be “invaded” or expropriated? If the sentient inhabitants lack advanced technology, or if they have it, should this make any difference in our ethical judgment of the situation?

The number of intelligent races that have existed in the pant may be significantly greater than those presently in existence. Specifically, at this time there may exist perhaps only 10% of the alien civilizations that have ever lived in the Galaxy – the remaining 90% having become extinct. If this is true, then 9 of every 10 replicating machines we might find in the Solar System could be emissaries from long-dead cultures . If we do in fact find such machines and are able to interrogate them successfully, we may become privy to the doings of incredibly old alien societies long since perished. These societies may lead to many others, so we may be treated, not just to a marvelous description of the entire biology and history of a single intelligent race, but also to an encyclopedic travelogue describing thousands or millions of other extraterrestrial civilizations known to the creators of the probe we are examining. Probes will likely contain at least an edited version of the sending race’s proverbial “Encyclopedia Galactica,” because this information is essential if the probe is to make the most informed and intelligent autonomous decisions during its explorations.

SRS probes can be sent to other star systems to reproduce their own kind and spread. Each machine thus created may be immortal (limitlessly self-repairing) or mortal. If mortal, then the machines may be further used as follows. As a replicating system degrades below the point where it is capable of reproducing itself, it can sink to a more simple processing mode. In this mode (useful perhaps as a prelude to human colonization) the system merely processes materials, maybe also parts and sub-assemblies of machines, as best it can and stockpiles them for the day when human beings or new machines will arrive to take charge and make use of the processed matter which will then be available. As the original machine system falls below even this level of automation competence, its function might then be redirected to serve merely as a link in an expanding interstellar repeater network useful for navigation or communications. Thus, at every point in its lifespan, the SRS probe can serve its creators in some profitable capacity. A machine which degrades to below the ability to self-reproduce need not simply “die.”

In my earlier article “More Speculations About Intelligent Self  Replicating Exploration Probes“, I pointed out that such probes would more likely be ‘Postmodified Biological’. It is not to dismay that such probes could go through evolutionary changes and be more intelligent. A consensus is that replicating probes should be manufactured using nanomaterials e.g. catoms while it seems significantly plausible that such probes could , in fact, be biological based on rather different mechanisms-brain can be programmed and a powerful microprocessor and other cyberweaponry could be installed, a kind of cyberbiotic probes, designed in a essence to be able of surviving interstellar radiation. Vivid changes as per accordance to requirements, could be installed to work perfectly and replicate themselves even when there is no cargo halt to get metallic material.

[Ref: Astrobiology Magazine, quotations from Astrobiology Mgazine, Nature Vol. 207, No. 4997, pp. 568-570, August 7, 1965]

Searching for Other Life Forms in Extraterrestrial Environments

The ancient Greeks were among the first to explain astronomical phenomena in physical terms. It is known, for example, that Aristarco from Samos taught that the Earth was just one planet which, as others, moves around the sun and that stars were at great distances. Epicurus  suggested that the universe is filled with other worlds where extraterrestrial life is possible. Since then, the idea of a universe consisting of many worlds, just like Earth and our solar system, has been raised many times in the course of human history.

To search for life on planets other than the Earth we must be prepared to recognize life as we do not know it. We cannot rule out other planets just because they are not like our world. An infinite number of life forms may have been fashioned in alien environments with characteristics fundamentally different from those found on Earth. In this context, to recognize alien life, we must learn how to escape from our anthropocentric, Earth-centered way of thinking and abandon the pre-Copernican belief that our planet is the center of the biological universe and all life forms are just like us.

Criterion of  ‘Being Living ‘

For millennia, philosophers, scientists, and theologians, have attempted define life. And yet, there is no general accepted definition of life.Quoting From Research Paper:

Nowadays scientists are content to define life using the “chemical Darwinian definition” that involves “self-sustaining chemical systems that undergo evolution at the molecular level” (Joyce et al 1994). It is a limited definition considering that life on Earth may have originated on other planets (Joseph 2009a; Rampelotto 2009). There are in fact a number of genetic-studies which purport to demonstrate that the common ancestors for Earthly life forms may have first began to form billions of year before the Earth was fashioned (Jose et al., 2010; Poccia et al., 2010; Sharov 2010). It has been speculated the first steps toward actual life may have begun with self-replicating riboorganisms (Jose et al., 2010) whose descendants fell to Earth and other planets through mechanisms of panspermia (Joseph 2009a) thereby triggering the RNA world and then life as we know it (Jose et al., 2010). However, this model of life is still based on life as we know it. In fact, the concept of a self-sustaining chemical process can be applied with some justification to other catalytic, self-sustaining physicochemical process, such as forest fires.

Life on some planets may be like life on Earth. Life on other worlds may have a completely different chemistry, and may not even possess a genetic code. It would be extremely unfortunate to expend considerable resources in the search for alien life and not recognize it when we find it–or it finds us.

Life that may have been originated elsewhere, even within our own solar system, could be unrecognizable compared with life here and thus could not be detectable by telescopes and spacecraft landers designed to detect terrestrial biomolecules or their products. Life might be based on molecular structures substantially different from those we know. Therefore, it may be a mistake to try to define life based on a single example – life on Earth. As pointed out by Cleland and Chyba (2002) definitions just tell us about the meanings of words in our language, as opposed to telling us about the nature of the world.

What we really need is a general theory of living systems, analogous to the theory of molecules that permits one to give an unambiguous answer to the question “what is water?”. Prior to molecular theory, the best a scientist could do in characterizing water would be to define it in terms of its sensible properties, such as being wet, transparent, odorless and tasteless. Once we had an understanding of the molecular nature of matter we could identify water in such a way that all ambiguity disappears: water is H2O. Thus, a precise answer to the question “what is water?” was possible only when situated within an appropriate scientific theory.

Again, however, this may trap us into an Earth-centered perspective. Life in the universe may not be like life as we know it. Therefore, the key to formulate a general theory of living systems is to explore alternative possibilities for life. In this context, first of all, we need to understand the fundamental features of life not just based on examples from Earth, but based on how life may form and then evolve on planets completely unlike Earth. By taking a broad view this will greatly improve the possibility of recognizing life if we come upon it elsewhere in the Universe.

Characterizing Life

The search so far has focused on Earth-like life because that is all we know. Hence, most of the planning missions are focused on locations where liquid water is possible, emphasizing searches for structures that resemble cells of terran organisms, small molecules that might be the products of carbonyl metabolism and amino acids and nucleotides similar to those found in terrestrial proteins and DNA.

However, life that may have been originated elsewhere, even within our own solar system, could be unrecognizable compared with life here and thus could not be detectable by telescopes and spacecraft landers designed to detect terrestrial biomolecules or their products. We must recognize that our knowledge of the essential requirements for life and therefore our concept on it, is based on our understanding of the biosphere during the later stages of Earth history. Since we only know one example of biomolecular structures for life and considering the difficulty of human mind to create different ideas from what it already knows, it is difficult for us to imagine how life might look in environments very different from what we find on Earth. In the last decades, however, experiments in the laboratory and theoretical works are suggesting that life might be based on molecular structures substantially different from those we know.
One of the fundamental features of life is its chemical complexity, which is based on polymeric molecules joined by covalent bonds. Carbon appears to be the only element capable of forming polymers that readily undergo chemical alterations under the physical conditions prevailing on Earth.

When we discuss about the search for extraterrestrial life, one of the most enticing questions that emerge in our mind is “how such exotic forms of life might look?” or “how similar or different from us will they be?

Life is likely a result of physical and chemical contingencies presented in the world where it arises. Most of the geochemical and environmental processes of any world remain unclear. Even the conditions that were present in early Earth are not clearly understood, which makes the origin of terrestrial life a mystery far to be resolved. Furthermore, the history of life on Earth shows us that the evolutionary trajectory of a living system cannot be predicted. The diverse and unimaginable forms of life which arose during the Cambrian period are a good example of the variety of forms life may take. Therefore, the details of form and function that a different history of life elsewhere would take, cannot be known until we find it. However, despite the possibility of so much diversity, at the molecular level underlying mechanisms guide the development of any unimaginable living system. Thus, based on biochemical principles, it is possible to make predictions about the nature of exotic forms of life which may be found in our solar system.

Thus, instead of searching for specific biosignatures that appeared later in the Earth’s history, future missions should focus to search for the general characteristics of life, which means search for life’s material-independent signatures. Most of our universe appears to be a hostile place for life to exist with no planetary bodies except Earth harboring life as we know it. However, similar notions were previously thought of Earth’s extreme environments such as acidic hot springs, deepsea vents or solar salterns, which were believed to be too “extreme” to nurture life. Yet numerous studies over the last decades have shown that these extreme environments actually harbor an incredible diversity of bacteria and archea.

Boron Based Life

Imagine with me and let’s go to planet venus which may harbour silicon based life forms. In some cases it may also harbour Boron based life forms. Boron have some interesting chemical and physical properties which make it a possible candidate to constitute exotic life forms under some condition. Though, this time it is not going to make complex compound by going through the formation of covalent bonding but it may be hydrogen bonding. It is also capable of forming long chain compounds with hydrogen at normal pressure and temperature conditions. The nido boranes are extremely stable(boranes are compound of hydrogen and boron). So I can’t discard its role to develope sentient exotic alien beings.

Ammonia Based Life Forms

An alternative biochemistry could be conceived in which water was replaced as a solvent by liquid ammonia.1 Part of his reasoning was based on the observation that water has a number of ammonia analogues. For example, the ammonia analogue of methanol, CH3OH, is methylamine, CH3NH2. Haldane theorized that it might be possible to build up the ammonia-based counterparts of complex substances, such as proteins and nucleic acids, and then make use of the fact that an entire class of organic compounds, the peptides, could exist without change in the ammonia system. The amide molecules, which substitute for the normal amino acids, could then undergo condensation to form polypeptides which would be almost identical in form to those found in terrestrial life-forms. This hypothesis, which was developed further by the British astronomer V. Axel Firsoff, is of particular interest when considering the possibility of biological evolution on ammonia-rich worlds such as gas giants and their moons.

On the plus side, liquid ammonia does have some striking chemical similarities with water. There is a whole system of organic and inorganic chemistry that takes place in ammono, instead of aqueous, solution.4, 5 Ammonia has the further advantage of dissolving most organics as well as or better than water,6 and it has the unprecedented ability to dissolve many elemental metals, including sodium, magnesium, and aluminum, directly into solution; moreover, several other elements, such as iodine, sulfur, selenium, and phosphorus are also somewhat soluble in ammonia with minimal reaction. Each of these elements is important to life chemistry and the pathways of prebiotic synthesis. The objection is often raised that the liquidity range of liquid ammonia – 44°C at 1 atm pressure – is rather low for biology. But, as with water, raising the planetary surface pressure broadens the liquidity range. At 60 atm, for example, which is below the pressures available on Jupiter or Venus, ammonia boils at 98°C instead of -33°C, giving a liquidity range of 175°C. Ammonia-based life need not necessarily be low-temperature life!

The vital solvent of a living organism should be capable of dissociating into anions (negative ions) and cations (positive ions), which permits acid-base reactions to occur. In the ammonia solvent system, acids and bases are different than in the water system (acidity and basicity are defined relative to the medium in which they are dissolved). In the ammonia system, water, which reacts with liquid ammonia to yield the NH+ ion, would appear to be a strong acid – quite hostile to life. Ammono-life astronomers, eyeing our planet, would doubtless view Earth’s oceans as little more than vats of hot acid. Water and ammonia are not chemically identical: they are simply analogous. There will necessarily be many differences in the biochemical particulars. Molton suggested, for example, that ammonia-based life forms may use cesium and rubidium chlorides to regulate the electrical potential of cell membranes. These salts are more soluble in liquid ammonia than the potassium or sodium salts used by terrestrial life.

Silicon Based Life Forms

The most commonly proposed basis for an alternative biochemical system is the silicon atom, since silicon has many chemical properties similar to carbon and is in the same periodic table group, the carbon group. Like carbon, silicon can create molecules that are sufficiently large to carry biological information. Silanes, which are chemical compounds of hydrogen and silicon that are analogous to the alkane hydrocarbons, are highly reactive with water, and long-chain silanes spontaneously decompose. Molecules incorporating polymers of alternating silicon and oxygen atoms instead of direct bonds between silicon, known collectively as silicones, are much more stable. It has been suggested that silicone-based chemicals would be more stable than equivalent hydrocarbons in a sulfuric-acid-rich environment, as is found in some extraterrestrial locations.[4] Complex long-chain silicone molecules are still less stable than their carbon counterparts, though.
For example, polysilanes with molecular weights of above 106 have been synthesized. Although polysilanes are not stable at the temperature and pressure conditions of Earth’s surface they are adequately stable at low temperatures, especially at higher pressures. These studies altogether suggest that whether silicon-based life exist, it may be restricted to an environment with minor amounts of oxygen, scarcity of water, a compatible solvent such as methane and low temperatures (at least below 0°C). Titan provides the best target in our solar system for investigating this possibility. It meets all the described criteria (Fulchignoni et al 2005; Naganuma and Sekine 2010). Although has been considered that the abundance of carbon compounds on Titan may compete with silicon as the building block of life, silicon may have advantage in such extreme cold environment due to its higher reactivity.

Sulphur Based Life Forms
Sulphuric acid has the reputation to be a strong corrosive agent. However, what is not realized is that the process, called hydrolysis, actually requires water. It is the water molecules that split proteins into small pieces; acid merely catalyses the process. Thus, due to its capacity to support chemical reactivity, sulphuric acid may be a reasonable solvent capable to sustain metabolism in non aqueous environments.The Venusians atmosphere is the most proper ambient in the solar system where this exotic form of life may flourish. The clouds of Venus are composed mostly of aerosols of sulfuric acid and water is scarce.

Life could have possibly originated in an early ocean on Venus when the planet’s surface was younger and cooler; then retreated into the clouds when the planet heated. To protect them from the high amount of UV radiation received, such hypothetical living systems may use the compound cyclic-octa-sulfur (S8), which does not react with sulfuric acid. An analogous process is observed on Earth, where some purple sulfur bacteria, green sulfur bacteria and some cyanobacterial species deposit elemental sulfur granules outside of the cell (Tortora et al 2001). Such Venusians life forms may be phototrophic, using hydrogen sulfide, which is oxidized to produce granules of elemental sulfur (Schulze-Makuch et al 2004). Terrestrial purple sulfur bacteria use such anoxygenic process as source of energy.

The discovery of exo-planets around stars other than the Sun continues to stimulate public and media interest. Undoubtedly, this attention has been driven by the prospects of finding evidence of alien life. At the moment, life on Earth is the only known life in the Universe, but there are compelling arguments to suggest we are not alone. As Carl Sagan said, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. This thought is well known in other fields of research. Astrophysicists, for example, spent decades studying and searching for black holes before accumulating today’s compelling evidence that they exist. The same can be said for the search for room-temperature superconductors, proton decay, violations of special relativity, or for that matter the Higgs boson. Indeed, much of the most important and exciting research in astronomy and physics is concerned exactly with the study of objects or phenomena whose existence has not been demonstrated.

Featured Articles: Evidence of Life on Mars and Analysis of Evidence of Life On Mars

[Ref: The Search for Life on Other Planets:  Sulfur-Based, Silicon-Based, Ammonia-Based Life by Pabulo Henrique Rampelotto ,WIKIPEDIA, DavidDarling]

Gliese 581g: Earthlike Exoplanet may Harbor Potentially Rich Alien Life!!

Brief diagram showing the greenhouse effect

Image via Wikipedia

There is a Earthlike planet orbiting around a red dwarf star system Gliese 581, which may be teeming with alien life possibly intelligent alien life. The Gliese 581 system exerts an outsize fascination when compared to many of theother exoplanetary systems that have been discovered to date.The interest stems from the fact that two of its planets lie tantalizingly close to the expected threshold for stable,habitable environments, one near the cool edge, and one near the hot edge. Gliese 581, located 20 light years away from Earth in the constellation Libra, has two previously detected planets that lie at the edges of the habitable zone, one on the hot side (planetc) and one on the cold side (planet d). While some astronomers still think planet d may be habitable if it has a thick atmosphere with a strong greenhouse effect to warm it up and it seems quite possible since planet has much gravity than our own planet. The planet is orbiting at a distance of 0.146AU from its host star and by solving equation its equilibrium surface temperature can be calculated as 228K. An equally important consideration is the actual surface temperature Ts. The equilibrium temperature of the Earth is 255 K, well-below the freezing point of water, but because of its atmosphere, the greenhouse eect warms the surface to a globally-averaged mean value of Ts= 288 K. If, for simplicity, we assume a greenhouse eect for GJ 581g that is as eective as that on Earth, the surface temperatures should be a factor 288/255 times higher than the equilibrium temperature. With this assumption,in the absence oftidal heating sources, the average surface temperatures on GJ 581g would be 236-258K. Alternatively, if we assume that an Earth-like greenhouse eect would simply raise the equilibrium temperature by 33 K, similar to Earth’s greenhouse, the surface temperature would still be about the same, 242-261K. Since it is more massive than Earth, any putative atmosphere would likely be both denser and more massive. It would be denser because of the larger surface gravity, which would tend to hold more of the atmosphere closer to the surface. And the atmosphere may be significantly more massive if we simply assume that the planet went through a formation process similar to that of the Earth and that all the bodies that went into forming GJ 581g had the same relative amount of gasses as in the bodies that went into making up the Earth. Some of these gases would subsequently be outgassed to make the atmosphere.

The planet is tidally locked to the star, meaning that one side is always facing the star and basking in perpetual daylight, while the side facing away from the star is in perpetual darkness. The prominent habitable zone on the planet’s surface would be the line between shadow and light (known as the “terminator”).

Ultimately it seems fair likely that planet might be lurking with organic alien life. The planet is much similar in essence to Earth especially temperature ranges are pretty nourishing for a organic DNA conceding that it might have been put there by cometary impacts. It is conceivable that various corners of the cosmos may be populated by non-cellular or non-DNA or non-carbon derive dentities, some of which may also be highly evolved yet in ways that defy human (DNA-based) comprehension. This may be particularly true of life in distant galaxies; that is, those whose chemistry is radically different from our own. Nevertheless, because the five kingdoms of Earthly life all contain DNA and consist of cellular components, we can make certain predictions about the characteristics of at least some extraterrestrial creatures. We can predict that some alien life forms, like Earth based creatures, consist of living cells, which contain DNA. These cells would probably require water and have acquired electrical-chemical, generative powers for active transport of food, waste, and the transmission and reception of important messages. Some exobiological organisms would have evolved five or more senses and a brain that could process that information. As on Earth, it is likely that some extraterrestrials possess the the same “universal” genetic code and similar genetic memories, instructions, or potential within their DNA. Provided a variable Earth-like environment that was susceptible to genetic engineering, we could predict that on certain worlds, over time,a somewhat similar step wise sequence of increasing intelligence, complexity and diversity would take place involving numerous extinctions and recoveries. animals reminiscent of reptiles, repto-mammals, therapsids, mammals, primates, and human-like creatures might likely blossom and unfold; which does not mean to say they would look like their Earthly counterparts.We can also predict that those aliens who are related to the Animal Kingdom of Life would be intelligent,and have brains comprised of nerve cells and DNA. Since life is not evolved just from chemical randomness.

For given surface temperature GJ 581g, is habitable. Human like creatures could easily nurture into ‘terminator’ zone of planet where planet is neither too ‘cold’ nor too ‘hot’, just right! On the other hand, planet should be habited by extremophiles. Bacteria have a number of mechanisms by which they are able to resist and protect themselves against radiation and heat. When compared to mesophilic bacteria (that typically live between 20-40°C), thermophilic bacteria (optimum growth can exceed 100°C) have greatly enhanced protein and nucleic acid stability. These mechanisms include an increased cross-linking of proteins and altered DNA structure. When growing bacteria are subjected to temperatures approaching their upper growth range, cellular damage and death can arise from protein misfolding (denaturation), a loss of membrane integrity and DNA damage. Bacteria, including thermophiles, have a number of stress responses, including producing a variety of heat shock proteins. Early studies showed that bacteria such as Escherichia coli, expressed a number of heat shock genes when they approached their maximum growth temperature; and that bacteria defective in these geneshad reduced thermal tolerance. Several heat shock genes encode the synthesis of a number of accessory proteins called chaperones.

The search for extraterrestrial life is encouraged by a comparison between organisms living in severe environmental conditions on Earth and the physical and chemical conditions that exist on some Solar System bodies. The extremophiles that could tolerate more that one factor of harsh conditions are called poly-extremophiles. There are unicellular and even multicellular organisms that are classified as hyperthermophiles (heat lovers), psychrophiles (cold lovers), halophiles (salt lovers), barophiles (living under high pressures), acidophiles (living in media of the lower scale of pH). At the other end of the pH scale they are called alkaliphiles (namely, microbes that live at the higher range of the pH scale). Thermo-acidophilic microbes thrive in elevated thermo-environments with acidic levels that exist ubiquitously in hot acidic springs.Cyanidium caldarium, is a classical example of an acido-thermophilic red alga that thrives in places such as hot-springs (<570 and in the range 0.2-4 pH). This algal group shows a higher growth rate (expressed as number of cells and higher oxygen production when cultured with a stream of pure CO2, rather than when bubbled with a stream of air (Seckbach, 2010). It has been reported that Cyanidium cells resisted being submerged in sulfuric acid (1N H2SO4). This is a practical method for purifying cultures in the laboratory and eliminating other microbial contamination (Allen, 1959). The psychrophiles thrive in cold environments, such as within the territories found in the Siberian permafrost, around the North Pole in Arctic soils, and they may also grow in Antarctica.

Microbes Thriving Below Antarctic Ice

Barophilic microorganisms can tolerate a pressure of 1000 atmospheres on the seafloor, while other barophilic microorganisms have been detected in the subsurface of dry land. In hypersaline areas (such as the Dead Sea, Israel) we find halophilic bacteria (Arahal et al., 1999) and algae that can balance the osmotic pressure of hypotonic external solutions (Oren, 1988).

Chroococcidiopsis is one of the most primitive cyanobacterium known so far. This microbe survives in a wide range of extreme habitats that are hostile to most other forms of life. Chroococcidiopsis grows in hot springs, in hypersaline habitats, in a number of hot, arid deserts throughout the world, as well as in the frigid Ross Desert in Antarctica (Fewer et al., 2002).

Recently, the segmented microscopic animals tardigrades, (0.1 – 1.5 mm) have been under investigations (Goldstein and Blaxter, 2002; Horikawa, 2008). These “water bears” are polyextremophilic, and are able to tolerate a temperature range from about 00C up to + 1510C (much more that other known microbial prokaryotic extremophiles, Bertolani et al., 2004). But even low Earth orbit extreme temperatures are possible: tardigrades can survive being heated for a few minutes to 151°C, or being chilled for days at -200°C, or for a few minutes at -272°C, 1° warmer than absolute zero (Jönsson et al., 2008). These extraordinary temperatures were discovered by an ESA project of research into the fundamental physiology of the tardigrade, named TARDIS. Tardigrades are also known to resist high radiation, vacuum, and anhydrous condition for a decade in a dehydrated stage and can tolerate a pressure of up to 6,000 atmospheres. These aquatic creatures are ideal candidates for extraterrestrial life and for withstanding long periods in space. They have already been used in space and have survived such stress. That’s why I find it indulging to speculate

Hope there is life!

[Note: I’ll be back with full review of possibility of life on earthlike planet GJ 581g]

[Ref: Astrobiology: From Extremophiles in The Solar System to Extraterrestrial Civilization by Joseph Seckback]

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Short Article: Top Five Mythical Hypothesis about Alien Life

Extraterrestrial life is extremely debated, ever since Homo Sapiens Sapiens started to tackle about it. In the era of Geordono Bruno, even thinking about it, was open invitation to Guillotine. Now there are many open minds who are speculating these life forms based on Drake equation and complex chemistry. However, there are some myths about extraterrestrial life and aliens.
1. Every Alien Being Should Have Humanoid Look: This is most popular consensus among sentient beings that any intelligent alien should have erect humanoid shape otherwise he can’t develop civilization. Dr. Dale Russel has speculated so called Reptilian beings evolved from a theropod named troodon. Most amazingly his reptilian being was erect and humanoid shaped. Some argued that there was no such civilization of intelligent beings since we haven’t found any evidences like stone tools etc. They used small stone tools to kill t-rex, supersaurus and Sauroschus(12 to 15m long and weighed >10tons, supercroc)? It was very easy to kill such small(?) predators with stone tools. So if there was civilization, where are the stone tools? Hey, you are wrong! Humanoid body plan is best for tetrapods not all creatures. While troodon was already a bipedal predator, you need not to make him erect humanoid.

2. Rare Earth Hypothesis: Rare Earth Hypothesis argues that life origingated here on Earth due to randomness and specific position of Earth in universe which are not possible anywhere in universe. When you got a FTL spaceship? You have explored the every corner universe?

3. Interdimensional Alien Beings: Perhaps, I’ve already talked about it. This term is mostly used in Paranormal blogs. A paranormal term to explain paranormal phenomenon. Net resultant=paranormal paranormal=2paranormal. Interesting result! Isn’t it? Anything could be interdimensional if it is capable of maintaining its existence in multiple dimensions. Sometimes UFOlogists like to explain phenomenon by introducing an interdimensional being dramatically. I’ll try to explain this in short why it is illogical(since this is a short article)? Consider that you are being transfered in the hyperspace(5D space time) , would you adapt the extra space dimension? No, you can’t because equations doesn’t allow you to change your body configuration. Sure you can travel interdimensionally but that doesn’t make you 5D human entity. And one thing, you can’t travel in a space-time reality which is below you means if you are a 3 space dimensional entity, you can’t go through 3D space-time(2space 1time). Well, a 2D space dimensional entity could travel easily into our and higher space since it would still occupy 2space dimension to remain its existence. Now, I think it would make some aspects clear to UFOlogists. Next time, I’ll write a detailed article about it with equations. See my earlier article ‘what would a flatlander really see?’ to understand this better.

4. Aliens are very advanced: Science fiction writers have ever depicted the presence of advanced otherworldly civilization. Well, it doesn’t mean that everytime when I talk about them, I’m talking about a 10cubic meter conscious pile of alien neurons which has discovered the theory of everything.

5. Quantum Gods of Creationists: Creationists are highly mentally unstable. Just three hundred years ago, it talked about earthcentrism and Noah’s flood etc. Just ten years ago, the bible depicted the presence of dinosaurs and now presence of extraterrestrial being anywhere else in the universe. Very unstable!

Why to Expect Alien Contact?

I’ve tackled a lot of speculations about alien life but most of speculations were from our terrestrial aspects. Fermi asked a question ‘where are they?’ though IMO, it was not a wise question. I also have counter argument for his question. If I were there I would have asked him why not give me a FTL craft?(actually it was asked by a WeirdSciences commenter, Morien). Most folks like to present the solution by arguing and questioning over our inferior technological developments. I have also presented this aspect in my earlier article ‘Poor Hawking You Are Wrong?’ and perhaps this is why it is still popular among new readers. Later I found that it was not a scientific aspect but a logical one. Here are some argument based on absolute science and logical too. You know I don’t accept anything beyond the explanation of logic and science.

What if there are intelligent civilizations in Titan or Europa? Assuming that they have developed technological civilization(not necessarily like ours) and want to explore for extratitanian life forms and they have started their SETI(Search for ExtraTitanian Intelligence) programme. What is the likelyhood of directing their signals towards Terran? Titan has a very low temperature and relatively higher pressure than Earth. The life forms which may be possible, could be based on methan or ammonia(If they are based on methane it is still carbon based life and if based on ammonia it is nitrogen based life form). There is no case of being silicon based life forms there. Usually silicon could make long single or double chain compounds, and also three dimensional lattice and two dimensional sheet structured compounds. Silicates have extreme stability due to the donation of extra electrons from O(oxygen) atoms into vacant 3d orbitals. Come back, why I’ve discarded the possibility of silicon based life on Titan since its temperature is far less than it would need to start reactions and to make complex compounds of silicons. Yes, it may significantly flourish into hot vents of venus. Some parts of mercury may also nurture silicon based life forms. Most of our universe appears to be a hostile place for life to exist with no planetary bodies except Earth harboring life as we know it. However, similar notions were previously thought of Earth’s extreme environments such as acidic hot springs, deepsea vents or solar salterns, which were believed to be too “extreme” to nurture life. Yet numerous studies over the last decades have shown that these extreme environments actually harbor an incredible diversity of bacteria and archea. Now come to real point! What do you expect from your alien brother who is living in titan or venus? In this speculation put other exotic life(electromagnetic and plasma based life forms) forms aside. Do you expect that should they land before your home? Shake hands and say “hello, I’m from Titan”? No way! They would never land here and even if they have planned to land their spaceship here, they would never like to meet us. You know, they have to come here in crew which would be surrounded by liquid nitrogen otherwise these cool and benign(?) being would be vaporized instantly. Instantly, yep, instantly! Remember the case of columbia shuttle in February, 2003. So sad!

Imagine with me and let’s go to planet venus which may harbour silicon based life forms. In some cases it may also harbour Boron based life forms. Boron have some interesting chemical and physical properties which make it a possible candidate to constitute exotic life forms under some condition. Though, this time it is not going to make complex compound by going through the formation of covalent bonding but it may be hydrogen bonding. It is also capable of forming long chain compounds with hydrogen at normal pressure and temperature conditions. The nido boranes are extremely stable(boranes are compound of hydrogen and boron). So I can’t discard its role to develope sentient exotic alien beings. Would they ever want to land here to shake hands? Same arguments are applicable. Never! How many surface missions we have sent to mercury or venus to search for life not to record weather data? Never! Same preamble is applicable to exotic aliens. Fermi paradox resolved?(no, because I want to speculate more and more)

The Three Biggest Questions About Extraterrestrial Contact: When, Where And How

Again its time to have a settlement with aliens. There are three unanswered questions about aliens which are frequently posed by some sentient beings, possibly by alien beings as advanced as we. These are:

By J.R. Mooneyham

When are we most likely to first contact aliens?

Never ever…

The greatest probability may well lie with us never encountering an extraterrestrial intelligence, simply for reasons of the enormous distances and expenses involved, and marginal benefits to be gained by any race in such long range ventures from their homeworld(s).


In a digital view of these possibilities, let us assume never encountering aliens to be the negative, while someday encountering them is the positive. Let us here assume the positive– that we do someday meet with intelligent extraterrestrials. In terms of probabilities, the operative word here is someday. That someday could easily be thousands of years from today; or even hundreds of thousands of years; the galaxy and the universe are plenty big enough to make contact plausible, if we allow a long enough time frame. Disappointing as this may sound to contemporary UFO aficionados, it is never-the-less a very real possibility. So it might be best to store all the party hats in the Egyptian pyramids for safe keeping, until they’re needed…

Someday soon…

Of much less probability is the scenario wherein we meet our alien counterparts sometime soon– like within just the next few centuries. For this to occur we would almost certainly have to be either under observation by them at this very moment, or on the verge of being discovered by them, or just a few years away from detection of such beings through our own telescopes or spacecraft. For in no other way might a person reasonably cognizant of the physics involved expect such a near term encounter to be prefaced. Let us briefly examine the implications of these three contingencies:

One, we are presently under observation by aliens, and have been for some indefinite period. This is a favorite assumption of UFO conspiracists. This scenario could involve disguised alien observers (or human agents of such aliens) living among us, or working within our governments or corporations, and/or an ongoing covert war against such activities by our governments, and/or a secret agreement between our governments and an alien civilization for an exchange of various items or information.

Two, we are on the verge of being discovered by aliens. This is more plausible than the first possibility in the list, due to our seventy lightyear radius bubble of radio signals surrounding us.

Three, we are only a few years from detecting extraterrestrials via radio telescope. It could well be that we could find such beings before they found us, simply because we’re actively looking and they are not (being busy with more productive activities). Plus, there’s little we do today that could attract the attention of faraway intelligences, while advanced alien civilizations could be constructing enormous Dyson spheres or other artifacts that would show up like gangbusters on our own instruments– if only we look at the right place, at the right time.

Any day now…

Of extremely low probability is the possibility that those of us around today will just happen to witness the spectacle of an alien ship landing on the White House lawn (or our own) tomorrow. The chances of this are far, far lower than those of any one of us winning a $100 million lottery today.

Of course, when you begin exploring possibilities in this extremely unlikely range of events, you’re reaching deeply enough into the improbable to touch upon the strange world of quantum physics itself, which may actually allow events to be manipulated by thoughts and expectations as much as anything else. In other words, it could turn out that anything we think about long enough and hard enough could be made real, by some inexplicable threading through all the needle eyes of those physical laws we presently know, and those we don’t, to weave a truly exotic fabric of events. If we expect a thing strongly enough, we may succeed at bringing it about, albeit indirectly, and in some wildly unpredictable manner. If this is the case, we would do well to dream about friendly aliens rather than hostile ones.

Where in our galaxy are we most likely to find aliens?

Basically, just as with human beings, where to look depends on what sort of folk you want to find.

Here we won’t attempt to guess where the God-like entities might be found— for even if we bumped into them we might not recognize them, but instead think they were a ‘quasar’ or something.

Come to think of it, we may have trouble recognizing even less developed aliens, too. But let’s give it the old college try, shall we?

The black voids of the introverted races

To find the truly advanced, longest lived extraterrestrial star farers, look to those regions of space which appear the emptiest. Capable of minimizing entropy to a degree unimaginable by us today, such civilizations will likely be able to reduce their energy and signal emanations to near zero, appearing to outsiders as the very emptiest of space. They may well possess numerous automated spies flying about the galaxy collecting information (while giving away little or none themselves), and defenses around their invisible corporeal base designed to appear as natural forces of cataclysmic magnitude exerted on vessels unfortunate enough to wander too near. Or, they may have none of these things, having found more elegant and still less conspicuous methods of data acquisition and security.

Of course, if these races prefer still emptier space than that described above, they might not live inside our galaxy at all anymore– preferring instead to exist outside it, in the greatest empty spots of all– the vast voids between galaxies. If this is the case, we might never find them– the voids are just too damn big.

Galaxy Central, or the Cosmic Bazaar

Our galactic core offers a wealth of possible natural resources to attract intelligent star farers, such as an enormous natural fountain of anti-matter fuel, and oodles of singularities (black holes) just waiting to have their gravity wells tapped for energy generation. The core is also on our way to the opposite side of our galaxy, where a second galaxy is slowly colliding with our own. The foreign galaxy may be composed of dark matter; thus, you have there not only a completely alien galaxy to explore virtually in our own backyard (as galaxies go)– but a tantalyzing opportunity to possibly sample some of the most exotic elements in the Universe as well.

Atop all this, the core also offers some of the oldest stars and systems in our galaxy– and possibly a natural meeting place and transportation/navigation hub for advanced star farers from all over. Such a region may be the most logical place to find large scale star faring activity, such as commerce, communications, and transportation (See the novel “Contact” by Carl Sagan for an excellent treatment of this subject).

All these possibilities may well make the galactic core the most ‘Star Trek’-like alien-mingling spot for tens of thousands of lightyears around. Different scientists have different opinions on this, and there’s really no way to be certain what frequency of radio wave aliens will use, or even if they will use a radio wave at all. It may well be that other, far more efficient techniques for communications are available that we simply haven’t found or invented yet.In advanced system is eventually put to use by human beings themselves offering instantaneous communications across infinite distances, but offering zero opportunities for third party eavesdropping, being utterly point-to-point– with no detectable signals in the intermediate void between comm stations. If aliens were already utilizing such a technology, there’d be no way we could detect such ongoing communications, even after we too attain the same level of relevant technology.

How is first contact most likely to be made?

Today, radio astronomers are generally considered to have the best chance for detecting alien signals, while those dependent on purely optical means might sight grand engineering projects underway in a far system– if they, by some enormous cosmic accident, happen to look in the proper direction at precisely the proper moment (Sorry, but this is unlikely. Our main hope for such a sighting is to automate the process, and allow teams of powerful super computers and satellites to perform our search for us, over a period of decades at minimum, calling our attention only to those things that almost definitely cannot be considered to be of natural origin).

So far (as of early August 2002) neither of these groups (radio or optical astronomers) have found anything to indisputably indicate an intelligent presence out there.

Many claims have been made by various citizens of encounters with, and even abductions by, extraterrestrial visitors. Though a small percentage of these claims are difficult to explain (as would be expected whether the incidents happened or not, due to our remaining substantial ignorance of natural phenomena, and even of our own psyche, as well as the natural ability of many of our number to deceive the rest of us to an astonishing degree), most are easily dismissed as attempts to exploit the concept for publicity, profit, or both.

The engineering difficulties and socio-economic hardships implied in such acts (interstellar journeys), on the part of the alien society which launched them, as well as the crew who manned such vessels, would be substantial so far as we may ascertain from our present knowledge. These facts, as well as others explored elsewhere in this text, would seem to greatly diminish the plausibility of present day claims of UFO abductions, encounters, and conspiracies.

It could also be that much or all of the present small percentage of alleged alien encounters presently voiced but not easily explained could be the result of secret military or corporate experiments by our own fellow human beings. Experiments not only in aerospace technologies, but also in genetics, biological weapons, advanced computer interfaces, and new hallucinogenic or other mind altering drugs. In some cases a fictional link with alien encounters might even be encouraged in the victims by the perpetrators to divert attention away from highly illegal or unethical acts. The probability of this being the case (if there’s anything to UFO claims in the first place) seems sufficiently high so as to explain perhaps all of those cases inexplicable by any other means– especially when the other considerations listed in this article are added to the debate.

But even if all the present day hype about UFOs is just that– hype– there still remains the possibility that someday, somehow, real contact WILL be made for the first time. In that case, what is the most likely scenario?

Unfortunately, the most probable scenarios, based on the information in this piece, are these (in order of likelihood):

  • Contact is never made, for the simple reason that relatively few sentient races with star faring technology exist, and these are spread so thinly throughout an imaginably vast galaxy that it simply isn’t practical for far-flung cultures to communicate or visit– plus, any race with an ounce of self-preservation instinct will tend not to directly reply to messages of unknown origin, or to actively beam out messages broadcasting their location to unknown races. In centuries to come however, we do get the consolation prize: we find worlds with lesser life forms, usually only at the level of microbes, or jelly fish floating in vast alien seas…but discover at least one world in a neighboring system with cave dwelling alien primitives and a complete alien eco-system comparable to that of Earth’s during 50,000 BC or so.
  • A few hundred to a thousand years from now, we discover artifacts of a dead or departed alien civilization equivalent to our own of 10,000 BC to 1,900 AD, via a robot probe exploring many lightyears from the nearest human occupied outpost. No sign of living inhabitants is found– then, or for centuries following.
  • Millennia from now we detect and possible capture a functioning long range alien probe, and we receive our first and last two-way communication with sentient aliens in our history. Their sole message? Leave us alone and we’ll leave you alone– or else.
  • Millennia from now we get the impression that possibility three above has occurred, but it turns out the aliens did this only to put us off guard; a few centuries later some awful mega weapon or war fleet appears among our local systems and does a pretty good job of wiping us out, in a cosmic example of pest control. There’s not enough left of us to retaliate, and even if there were, we’d have no idea where the enemy lived. And that’s that.

Yes, the above contingencies are not nearly as romantic, adventuresome, or fun as those painted by Hollywood and generations of science fiction authors– but they reek of practicality and probability.

[Image Credit: Alex Ries]

Is Panspermia Occurring Right Now?

Panspermia is said to be one of  the possible ways for evolution of  life on Earth. The theory of panspermia suggests that life did not originate on Earth, but instead came from space. The possibility that life originated here on Earth, but was supplemented by space-derived microorganisms also cannot be ruled out. Another variant of panspermia, “neopanspermia” refers to the contemporary arrival of life from space. The idea that life originated from space has a long history, while the theory of neopanspermia is relatively new. However, the entire concept of panspermia, in its modern guise is based on the seminal work of Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe. Until recently most of the work on panspermia has been theoretical. However, there is now laboratory evidence to support the view that microbes can be transferred across the cosmos, and which suggests that, at this moment, life is entering the Earth’s atmosphere from space.

One might imagine that the proposition that life is incoming to Earth from space could be easily be demonstrated, simply by sampling space at a height above the Earth where there is no possibility of contamination from below. One also might have assumed that NASA or another space agency would have looked for the presence of microbes in near space and would have determined at what height above the Earth’s surface they eventually peter out. This has not happened. Surprisingly, despite all the billions spent of space research we still do not know how high the Earth’s biosphere extends into space, nor have answers been provided to the apparently simple question- are microorganisms present in near space?

The highest point at which we know that microbial life exists is 77 km. However, we know nothing about the biology, if it exists, at heights above this. If microorganisms continue to be isolated as at even greater heights then there must come a point when it is acknowledged that they are incoming to Earth from space. The existence of a stratospheric biosphere may have had an important effect on the evolution of life on Earth. Any bacteria transferred from Earth to the stratosphere will be exposed to high levels of mutagenic UV rays and other forms of radiation. Such exposure will induce mutations in bacteria passing into the stratosphere. The ability of UV to cause mutations in microbial genome has long been recognised, and is used in biotechnology to improve the production of important biochemicals like penicillin. Moreover, the ability of the effected host to survive in varied environments can also be impacted. For example, UV induced mutations in Lactobacillus enables them to survive high concentrations of sodium chloride and sodium nitrate. Thus, mutations may pave the way for bacteria to colonize even toxic planets.

Therefore, naturally enhanced mutation in the stratosphere may speed up evolution rates in microbes which survive a period of UV exposure in this region and then return to Earth. This would also be true of microbes which arrive on Earth from space. Such mutagenesis will be far greater than that which occurs on Earth, where the amount of UV is reduced by the atmosphere, clouds, and the ozone layer.

The high cold biosphere may therefore act as a huge mutation- generator, a vast laboratory where new microbial genomes are created and returned to Earth where this new “information” can be promiscuously transferred to microbes which have not journeyed to the stratosphere. This process may be ongoing with microorganisms being continually returned to the stratosphere for a new dose of mutagenic radiation.

The acquisition of an atmosphere and ozone layer was absolutely essential for the development of complex multicellular life on Earth, thereby allowing life to explore and conquer diverse environments and to evolve and diversify. However, this protective layer also reduced the level of mutagenesis in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Given that the protective ozone layer was not sufficiently established until around 540 million years ago, coupled with the explosion of complex life which followed, it could be said that UV-induced mutagenesis may have promoted microbial evolution and diversity for the first 4 billion years of Earth’s history, but hindered eukaryotic evolutionary development.

Critics of panspermia often erroneous claim that it is impossible for naked bacteria to survive the transfer from space to Earth, because of problems related to ionising, and, particularly, UV radiation.  There is now considerable evidence demonstrating that bacteria can survive UV radiation, and a journey from Earth to space and back again. Resistance to UV for even a short period of time would allow a bacterium to survive when the protective cosmic dust covering is partially exposed, until a new UV-protective dust cover is formed. In this way, a bacterium which can survive direct exposure to UV would be at a competitive advantage over one that was not; of course, if a bacterium remained permanently covered by an impenetrable UV-protective layer of cosmic dust or carbonised cells then it could remain viable in the absence of any native UV resistance.

In a research paper by Jeff  Secker published in arxiv.org suggest that the traditional idea of radiopanspermia is valid if micro-organisms (bacteria and viruses) are shielded inside grainswhose material blocks significant UV radiation, and are ejected into space in the late stagesof a (one-solar-mass) star’s life. Coupled with recent discoveries supporting other aspects of panspermia and their result suggested that the probability for life in any given solar system has increased.

Three different micro-organisms were considered in these calculations. The Micrococcusradiophilus is the most radiation-resistant bacteria known at this time, and it is therefore alogical candidate for this radiopanspermia. The Staphylococcus minimus is a very commonbacteria which is much smaller than the Micrococcus radiophilus. As well, the virus weconsidered combined properties of both the T1 Bacteriophage and the phage C-36. Sun’s UV radiation is considerably more harmful than its ionizing radiation, and it is so intense at the present time that it effectively inactivates all exposed micro-organisms. This situation might be avoided if the micro-organisms are embedded in dust grains. This might be a natural thing, depending on how they are put into space, through UV processing of a thin surface skin of organic matter, or through interactions and accretion of carbon-rich interplanetary dust particles. It is noteworthy that in interstellar space the intensity of radiation is many orders of less than it is in the vicinity of sun.
Microbes in stratosphere An experimental balloon flown by a team of scientists from ISRO, Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS) and Tata Institute for Fundamental Research (TIFR) discovered twelve bacterial and six fungal colonies at heights ranging from 20 to 41 km.[Source: Marinews]
Now that the existence of a stratospheric bacterial has been established the next obvious question is- from where do these organisms originate; from Earth or from space? The application of Occam’s razor suggests that since these are microbes are commonly found on Earth they must have an Earth origin. There exists however, the possibility that some, at least, originate from space and that a mixed population of bacteria exists in the stratosphere, some outgoing from Earth and some incoming from space. A number of other mechanisms have been suggested by which bacteria might be carried into the stratosphere, including blue lightening, gravitophotophoresis and electrostatic action. However, it appears unlikely that any of these mechanisms would be capable of carrying a particle of a diameter exceeding 1micron, i.e. the usual size of bacteria when grown on nutrient–rich laboratory media.
The presence of  Fungi in Stratosphere The presence of fungi in the stratosphere presents an even greater enigma than does the presence of bacteria. This is because fungal hyphae and spores are generally much larger than bacteria, Fungal spores range from around 5 microns, for species of Penicillium, to 100 microns for species of Alternaria, both of which have been isolated from the stratosphere.
Clearly, under known mechanisms, it is extremely difficult to explain how these fungi reach the stratosphere. In the case of samples obtained at 41km, the sampling protocols used excluded the possibility of elevation by volcanic action. Therefore we are left with the reality that sections of fungal hyphae and, or spores can reach the stratosphere via unknown mechanisms. If these unknown mechanism include monsoons, then it is difficult to understand they selectively target large particles which are lifted to the stratosphere. This suggests that fungi may be incoming from the stratosphere. The idea that eukaryotes are incoming to Earth from space is probably even less acceptable to most microbiologists than is the idea that bacteria can make the same journey. The presence of fungi in the stratosphere therefore presents us with an even greater enigma than does the presence of bacteria.
Are these organisms being transferred from Earth to heights above 41km, or are they incoming to Earth from space? If we accept that the tropopause effectively acts as a barrier to the upward movement of particles of the size of bacteria and fungi we need to explain how these organisms can reach the stratosphere from Earth, especially in the cases where volcanic transfer has been excluded. One way of avoiding this problem is to assume that ultrasmall forms of bacteria and fungi are carried up into the stratosphere by some mechanism, such as monsoons. If this is the case, then we would expect to find ultrasmall bacteria, known to exist in the Earth’s oceans to be the dominant bacteria isolated from the stratosphere, and this is not the case. The alternative possibility is that the bacteria and fungi present in the stratosphere are incoming from space to Earth; a hypothesis which would probably be dismissed by most microbiologists who instead might argue that there exists an unknown mechanism for transporting particles of the size of bacterial and fungal components up to the stratosphere.
The best explanation for the mixed population of microorganisms which exists in the stratosphere, is that some are incoming to Earth from space (as represented by the observed particle masses in excess of 10 microns) and some are moving in the opposite direction. It is possible that the incoming bacteria may make up a considerable portion of the viable, but non-culturable, bacteria found on Earth. Although the findings presented above do not prove that bacteria and fungi are incoming to Earth from space, the evidence seems to favor this proposition and the reality of neopansermia.
[Ref: Astrophysical and Biological Constraints on Radiopanspermia by Jeff Secker and  Are Microbes Currently Arriving to Earth from Space? by Milton Wainwright]
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