Nasa spots aurora on Mars which shows why it can no longer support alien life

Once upon a time, Mars was a beautiful world of lakes, rivers and oceans.

But today it’s red, dead and appears to be totally devoid of extraterrestrial life.

Now Nasa has discovered evidence of a beautiful aurora on the Red Planet which will help scientists understand the processes which made it so inhospitably barren.

On Earth, the most famous auroras take place near the poles and are known as the Northern Lights.

But on Mars, they take place during the day and give off ultraviolet light, which means they cannot be seen by the naked eye.

However, Nasa has a spacecraft called MAVEN ((Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) orbiting the Red Planet which is equipped with an instrument called the Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph (IUVS) capable of detecting the aurora.

It’s thought that the aurora is generated by hydrogen from Martian water that’s currently escaping into space – a process which has been happening slowly for a very long time.

Nasa believes that understanding the aurora could shed light on the long process of water loss which is responsible for ‘transforming its climate from one that might have supported life to one that is cold, dry, and inhospitable’.

Andréa Hughes of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. Hughes is the lead author of a paper on about the latest discovery.

She said: ”Perhaps one day, when interplanetary travel becomes commonplace, travellers arriving at Mars during southern summer will have front-row seats to observe Martian proton aurora majestically dancing across the dayside of the planet (while wearing ultraviolet-sensitive goggles, of course).

‘These travellers will witness firsthand the final stages of Mars losing the remainder of its water to space.’

And if we understand where the water went, we might be able to work out if Mars was ever hospitable to Earth or if it’s always been a lifeless world.

The search for life on the Red Planet is one of the most important quests in science right now, so any news about Martian organisms would create a lot of excitement.

Last month, a university claimed that extraterrestrial beasties are living on Mars right now – but the claim always sounded too good to be true.

Unfortunately, the university which published a press release which alleged insects had been spotted on Mars performed a dramatic u-turn.

Professor Emeritus William Romoser, an entomologist from Ohio University, said images captured by Nasa’s Mars rovers clearly show ‘fossilised and living creatures’ on the Red Planet’s surface.

‘There has been and still is life on Mars,’ Romoser said in a press release which has now been deleted from the Ohio University website as well as wire services which distribute releases to journalists.

We found a poster of his research online, which is still available to read, which suggested Nasa is already ‘acquainted with Martian insect- and reptile-like creatures’ which live on Mars.

 

‘It appears that the “Red Planet” enjoys a surprising abundance of higher life forms,’ the paper continued.

The research analysed images sent back to Earth by the Mars Rover and made several astonishing allegations.

It suggested that creatures resembling ‘bees’ lived on Mars as well as reptile-like animals which preyed on them.

‘The insect-like fauna observed appeared to be sheltering/nesting in caves, in burrows beneath the surface, and in specialized structures,’ the paper continued.

Rosomer’s claims made international headlines last week.

‘There is apparent diversity among the Martian insect-like fauna which display many features similar to Terran insects that are interpreted as advanced groups – for example, the presence of wings, wing flexion, agile gliding/flight, and variously structured leg elements.’

He said the rovers have snapped pictures which ‘clearly depict the insect- and reptile-like forms’.

The scientist even suggested one image shows a living insect ‘in a steep dive before pulling up just before hitting the ground’.

‘Once a clear image of a given form was identified and described, it was useful in facilitating recognition of other less clear, but none-the-less valid, images of the same basic form,’ Romoser said.

‘An exoskeleton and jointed appendages are sufficient to establish identification as an arthropod. Three body regions, a single pair of antennae, and six legs are traditionally sufficient to establish identification as “insect” on Earth.

‘These characteristics should likewise be valid to identify an organism on Mars as insect-like. On these bases, arthropodan, insect-like forms can be seen in the Mars rover photos.’

Romoser said the Martian ‘creatures’ loosely resemble bumblebees or carpenter bees on Earth.

He suggested the ‘bees’ appearing to shelter or nest in caves and claimed other images show a fossilized creature that resembles a snake.

Romoser was an entomology professor at Ohio University for 45 years and co-founded its Tropical Disease Institute. He also spent nearly 20 years as a visiting vector-borne disease researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. Between 1973 and 1998, Romoser authored and co-authored four editions of the widely-used textbook called ‘The Science of Entomology’.

Romoser noted that ‘interpretations of insect- and reptile-like creatures he described may change in the future as knowledge of life on Mars evolves, but that the sheer volume of evidence is compelling’.

‘The presence of higher metazoan organisms on Mars implies the presence of nutrient/energy sources and processes, food chains and webs, and water as elements functioning in a viable, if extreme, ecological setting sufficient to sustain life,’ he said.

‘I have observed instances suggestive of standing water or small water courses with evident meander and with the expected blurring of small submerged rocks, larger emergent rocks at the atmosphere/water interface, a moist bank area, and a drier area beyond the moist area. Water on Mars has been reported a number of times, including surface water detected by instrumentation on Viking, Pathfinder, Phoenix, and Curiosity.

‘The evidence of life on Mars presented here provides a strong basis for many additional important biological as well as social and political questions,” he added. It also represents a solid justification for further study.’

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