1 2019.12.01 2024.02.26 2024.02.26 article Mario Ljubičić (Amenoum)108. brigade ZNG 43, 35252 Sibinj, Croatiamljubicic99{EAT}gmail.com On life at the surface/crust level of Mars. physics complete relativity, planetary life, mars homo.omega https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4959028 https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4959028 /authors/Amenoum.html#credits Life on Mars Abstract A hypothesis on current surface/sub-surface life on Mars is presented and discussed, with experimental test of viability of proposed conditions performed as well. Intro updated. Intro I have previously established, through Complete Relativity (CR), that Earth is a living organism. Not all terrestrial planets are of the same species, but probably should belong to the same class of life. In this planetary ecosystem, Venus and Mars are fully formed, while Earth is still forming upper [brain equivalent] mantle layers. Ongoing planetary embryogenesis (dominated by neurogenesis) is then the only reason why favourable conditions for complex life on the surface of a terrestrial planet exist.

In formed planets, complex life should reside wherever such life is possible and in cited works I do hypothesize multiple gravitational maxima and thus potential zones of habitability in the upper mantle. On surface, energy for this life may be mainly provided by the host star, otherwise it may come from gravitational compression (latent heat of fusion), tidal interactions (mainly with the Moon and the Sun, in case of Earth) and residual heat/radioactivity. Elsewhere, I also hypothesize other, periodic, sources of energy, correlated with asteroid impacts and oscillation of large scale gravitons. Most heat should be stored in the core (more in the liquid part if present). During slow evolution it is dissipated upwards through mantle convection (considered to drive plate tectonics). Estimates of current Earth's mantle viscosity give 100 million years for completion of one overturn cycle. The energy transfer is periodically increased with mantle plumes, the strongest of which are probably correlated with major mass extinctions. There is no plate tectonics on current Mars (which should be common for fully formed planets) but that does not rule out convection, it is of lower energy and confined to deeper layers. Periodically, more energy could be reaching shallower layers. Radioactivity, as well, can provide energy for near-surface geothermal activity. This then provides energy for biological activity, which, given the abundance of water and metals, probably is present and at least periodically active near Mars' surface. In a living planet, most complex life probably should reside within the mantle layers. This, however, does not forbid the existence of simpler life on the surface or in the crust of developed planets as well. If conditions allow it, it would be surprising not to find the residue of surface life in some form. So far several processes indicating possible biological activity have been identified on Mars and studies have shown that even microbes from Earth have mechanisms to cope with harsh conditions on its surface. This life may have even been detected before, but there are still no unambiguous signals, which could only be attributed to life and not to processes of abiotic origin.
It is unclear to me, however, why, after all we've discovered about life on Earth, we need confirmation that the origin is not abiotic, rather than needing confirmation that it is not. I consider that, at this point, anyone who does not believe in [the abundance of] extraterrestrial life must be a religious zealot. Most, if not all, of the building blocks of DNA discovered in meteorites (and all have been discovered) probably should be interpreted as parts of DNA broken over time during travel in space rather than something out of which DNA could be eventually synthesized over millions of years by a bunch of coincidences and miracles (which, of course, does not imply that such synthesis does not happen). At least some of de novo genes likely have extraterrestrial origin and horizontal gene transfer between planets should be taken into account, even though surface habitability may be shifted in time between them. There are microbes discovered that prefer feeding on meteorites over earthly rocks. There are big microbes in Earth's stratosphere for which no known mechanism exists that could have ejected them to such heights. Even now, we might be bombarded by microbes from space hidden in meteorites. Not all of them may contain microbes, but if at least some do, they are unlikely to differ much from those on Earth. Therefore, what is considered to be local contamination, may not be contamination at all.
However, recent atmospheric measurements have revealed processes which I believe are likely to have a biological source.
Note that, in this context, biological source (life) is understood to represent what is in modern biology considered to be a living single-celled or multi-celled organism.
Small updates in Hypothesis. Hypothesis Data from the analysis of atmospheric composition in Gale crater shows seasonal variation of CH4 and O2 and its correlation with optical depth and UV radiation. It has been proven already that water exists as ice on Mars, as well as perchlorates. It has been shown that even surface water containing perchlorates (brine) can melt on Mars during spring and summer and that the liquid can also periodically exist in thermodynamically stable states. The periods correspond exactly to observed variations of dielectric permittivity. Since increase in O2 happens during spring and summer and is correlated with atmospheric radiation absorption, one obvious source are microorganisms:
  1. Water molecules are broken through photolysis by UV radiation: $\displaystyle 2H_2O + 4\gamma \rightarrow 4H^+ + 4e^- + O_2$
  2. Providing hydrogen for perchlorate reduction (by microbes): $\displaystyle ClO_4^- + 2H^+ + 2e^- \rightarrow ClO_3^- + H_2O$ $\displaystyle ClO_3^- + 2H^+ + 2e^- \rightarrow ClO_2^- + H_2O$ $\displaystyle ClO_2^- \rightarrow Cl^- + O_2$
The net result of above steps is a release of 2O2 (water content remains the same) and at least some could be escaping to atmosphere. Note that the immunosensor used for detection of perchlorate-reducing bacteria can be easily implemented into instruments used in exploration of Mars, so why this hasn't been done so already? Methane (CH4), stored at some point below, gets released too as the brine melts. Replenishment of this methane can also be done by microbes (methanogens): $\displaystyle CO_2 + 4H_2 \rightarrow CH_4 + 2H_2O$ However, the issue with biological source of the phenomena is the UV radiation itself (along with cosmic radiation) - it kills microbes. Therefore, there must be a mechanism in place allowing microbes to survive, or the gases are the products of biological activity at some depth.
Note that a species of life already exists on Earth capable of surviving radiation on Mars. However, the problem for extremophiles on Mars' surface is not only radiation, but strong oxidizers such as perchlorate salts and dry conditions. For this reason, life is probably a bit deeper where oxidative stress is lower, although I do not exclude the possibility of even more extreme extremophiles with strong regeneration capabilities - after all, life and its environment do co-evolve. Organization of microbes into biofilms may further increase their resilience. No extinction is absolute and non-existence in particular space/time can be interpreted as a phase shift of life that previously existed, although change in scale is also possible. Phase shift can be vertical (eg. life migrates to atmosphere or deeper into soil) or horizontal (eg. life migrates to another planet). A mechanism for both can be provided by asteroid bombardment. Phase shift explains the presence of organisms on Earth optimized for much harsher environments than currently present on Earth - this includes not only radiation, but dryness, saltiness, high pressure and CO2 levels. Such extremophiles present on Earth may have migrated from Mars (and Venus) and are yet to evolve independently on Earth. The key for survival in harsh conditions on Mars' surface layers is cell symbiosis, one which can ensure protein/DNA repair rate can balance the damage. I find it extremely unlikely for a form of a symbiotic organism akin to Deinococcus radiodurans and Halococcus not to be present on Mars, although its existence may be vertically shifted in space, as it is horizontally (from one planet to the other) for Deinococcus and Halococcus. Note also that previously discovered geysers and associated dark dune spots on Mars' south pole have some features difficult to explain without biological activity.
A simple solution is the presence of an electric field, such that the brine is positively polarized and [real] ground negatively. In that scenario the perchlorate reduction by microbes does not happen at all (or, at least not on surface), but hydrogen (or, some of it) recombines in the soil where it may be used for methane production, without involving serpentinization (although, this too can occur on Mars). 2024.02.26
A recent study shows that perchlorates probably do not pose a big problem for microbes on Mars.
Dust storms on Mars can be global, frequent and large phenomena with strong electric fields being generated through interactions between dust particles and the atmosphere. In these interactions the atmosphere becomes positively polarized. Interaction of storms with brine could also generate positive ions on brine surface, but here the atmosphere can neutralize by taking electrons produced by UV. Hydrogen recombination must happen at sufficient depth, out of reach of UV radiation and cosmic rays. The transfer of hydrogen ions thus must be performed by proton conductors. Water ice itself is a proton conductor, albeit, in pure form, a poor one. However, it would be enough to start gas production at the other end, especially considering the large cross-section of the conductive column. Produced gas would be trapped below ice resulting in pressure build-up. This would produce heat and cracks in the ice. These gas buffers would eventually reach surface, enabling a better proton conductor to reach the surface, something that could be interpreted as Mars' hair. The hair itself might even contain a layer of salts/perchlorates to enable liquidity of the channel when gas pressure is low. This would be the outer layer of hair and could be the source of perchlorates on the surface of Mars (UV radiation would cause the breakup of the layer). Since Mars is, like Earth, roughly a large scale brain, lithosphere is the bone layer, crust is - crust, if conditions allow it, one can expect to grow some hair from the crust after the brain is formed (trees could be a precursor to this hair - lanugo). Chapter Hypothesis updated.
Current research on organic electronics on Earth goes in favour of the hypothesis. Recently, biohybrid plants with electronic roots have been engineered. Therefore, a link between a common plant and hypothesized electric Mars' hair already exists. Note that theory of planetary neurogenesis does imply that evolution of life on Earth's surface is, qualitatively, not significantly different to that of Mars.
The effect of UV radiation on hair, especially in water, is negligible - and it regrows when damaged. Of course, the hair of homo.omega should be more advanced than ours, possibly having a tree-like structure and could even be used as antennae for communication. These carbon fibres could be kilometres long and microscopic in width, at least on top, and could also serve as an elevator for microorganisms. The CO2 may be replenished in real crust by microbes (also providing a sink for O2 and methane): $\displaystyle C + O_2 \rightarrow CO_2$ $\displaystyle CH_4 + 2O_2 \rightarrow CO_2 + 2H_2O$ It is transferred up by the same channels to methane generators.
Mars surface ecosystem
Fig. 1: Mars surface ecosystem model (not to scale)
Real crust acts as a virtual (img) core, providing heat for virtual (img) mantle and enabling liquid water at this layer.
Note that, in craters such as Gale, situation is somewhat different. The impact has ejected img surface material exposing real surface (crust), but something similar can still exist there. Note also that the places of CO2 and CH4 generation might be somewhat different than depicted in Fig. 1, depending whether the conditions are aerobic or anaerobic.
Assuming ratio of crust to mantle is the same as on Earth one can calculate the thickness of the top layer on mars (img crust): $\begin{aligned}\displaystyle d_{(\text{Mars img crust})} &= {d_{(\text{Earth crust})} \over d_{(\text{Earth crust + mantle})}} * d_{(\text{Mars img crust + img mantle})} \\ &= {{5 + 50} \over {5 + 50 + 2*2900}} 1500\, m = 14.09\, m\end{aligned}$ This is the average thickness, minimum thickness would be ≈2.54 m. Water should exist dispersed, concentrated mostly in small pockets, except on south pole, where, like on Earth's Antarctica, should, at times at least, lie the entrance to a tunnel connecting surface with deep brain layers - the tunnel used during brain layer formation to transfer differentiated progenitor cells (new neurons) to a designated brain layer (the tunnel may, however, only exist during events of neurogenesis, correlated with mass extinctions on surface). A large body of liquid water has been detected on Mars' south pole at ~1.5 km depth. The detected lake is ≈20 km wide, surrounded by elevated ground, except on the east side where a depression has been detected. No other bodies of liquid subsurface water have been detected so far, but the resolution of the instrument used (MARSIS) is not sufficient to detect smaller pockets of water (below couple kilometres in diameter).
UPDATE: More lakes have later been detected nearby. Some, however, are not convinced that any of these bodies are lakes of water, rather some other material (smectites), arguing that required salt and heat concentration for maintenance of liquid water is implausible given what is currently known about Mars. But what do we know about Mars? I do know that we are constantly surprised by Mars (eg. no one was expecting recent volcanic activity on Mars, the problems of Insight and Perseverance with ground digging/drilling, 10 times stronger crustal magnetization than expected, etc.) and all other bodies of the Solar System (including Earth). If Mars is still alive (according to my hypotheses, it should be), global crustal heating should not be surprising. There are over a hundred of volcanoes under Antarctica and there are hundreds of subglacial lakes there. At the times Mars' surface is habitable, its south pole probably should not differ much from current Earth's south pole. It is still possible that detected bodies on Mars' south pole are not bodies of liquid water at this point, however, some of these should certainly be the locations of basins and drains used during strong neurogenesis events. The drains might be closed with clay when unused, but if they are open or opening, the basins should contain liquids. The presence of liquids could then be interpreted as a signal of upcoming strong neurogenesis events. If these events are roughly synchronized between Earth and Mars, it is possible that adult neurogenesis is currently upcoming on Mars - while Earth's surface is decreasing habitability, Mars would be increasing its surface habitability. Increasing volcanism and magnetism on Mars go in favour of the hypothesis (assuming we do not attribute strong magnetism to rocks magnetized billions of years ago). If Mars is indeed waking up, we should expect more, and increasing rate of, surprises.
More evidence for adult neurogenesis on Mars.
Analysis of rocks in Utopia Planitia shows liquid water existed there ≈700 million years ago (the age is, however, based on crater counting statistics). Regardless of the potential heat source, the in situ observations manifest recent aqueous activities on Mars, suggesting that the cold and dry late Amazonian epoch may have been episodically punctuated by short-duration climatic warming events that result in melting of ground ice at latitude less than 30°N.
Episodic habitability is exactly what is predicted by the hypothesis of adult neurogenesis, so this is another evidence in its favour.
New evidence favours subglacial water.
In the new analysis, based on Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) data, it was found that the most likely explanation for observed radar returns in Ultimi Scopuli area of the Mars' South Pole is the subglacial liquid water generated by local geothermal heating (src: press, pub, full-text). Mars is, thus, contrary to popular belief held so far, geothermally active. Another big surprise for orthodox science, another confirmation of my hypotheses.
A recent study confirms that the structure of the model in Fig. 1 is representative for a significant part of Mars. The structure has been detected on Mars' equator (src), and the average thickness of the feature is close to predicted (1500 m). The dust layer on top of the ice, however, seems to be bigger, 300-600 m in thickness. I wouldn't thus interpret it all as img crust. It is possible that a thinner layer of somewhat different composition exists on the bottom of this deposit. In that case this deeper layer would be an older feature, representing the hypothesized img crust, while the material above may be a later deposited dust, which could be inhibiting the function of proposed hair here. Indeed, it appears that the average thickness of detected ice layer is 1500 m, equal to the predicted average total of img mantle and img crust.
I believe Mars did not lose all of its atmosphere, its troposphere condensed and solidified, pressure dropped in order to conserve the equilibrium temperature (note that average Mars' surface temperature is equal to the temperature at the top of Earth's troposphere, -60°C). Electric discharges between img surface and real crust are thus the equivalent of Earth's atmospheric discharges. Solidification was complete after formation of the final brain layer (I) and high volcanic activity induced by cometary bombardment (also providing new water). Pressure was increased from 1 atm to just enough needed for solidification. After that point, magnetic field continued contracting below surface, pressure was dropped to 1/100 atm and remains of ionosphere rebounded (the same will happen on Earth, the end result should be similar to Mars' but with higher surface temperature and pressure).
There are microbes living currently on Earth, which can survive pressure of 6 mbar, temperature of -60°C and 95% CO2 atmosphere of Mars. These may be considered as a precursor or a consequence of phase shift in time. Note that, at the time of compression, Mars had significant water content in its hydrosphere. The compression must have resulted in strong crustal hydration, creation of hydrates and perhaps other clathrates.
Research confirms crustal hydration.
UPDATE: Recent research shows that significant amount of Mars' water (up to 99%) was not lost to space, but was rather stored in crust.
At time of compression, the troposphere contained mainly CO2, water and dust. During solidification some CO2 dissolved in water but some remained on top as CO2 ice (dry ice). Over time, the layer of pure CO2 ice sublimated, except on poles where, due to lower temperatures, remains preserved (renewed). At the point of solidification, atmospheric discharges were at maximum. Induced heat of discharges alone could have created initial channels connecting the top surface with the crust. Plants can live at these pressures and it is expectable for them to grow higher in high CO2 conditions. Since, at the point of strong evolution, CO2 is abundant - trees evolve, to reach extreme heights, extremely small width due to high pressure and life in dark environments due to polluted atmosphere. With a suitable catalyst, UV radiation is breaking water molecules in liquid water, making photosynthesis obsolete - the plant simply collects free radicals from water. The plant forms the symbiosis (or fusion) with microbes, such that it delivers hydrogen/oxygen to them. In return, microbes clean the plant by processing dead cells - taking carbon, and releasing methane/carbon-dioxide. Effectively, the tree evolved to an ion conductor (electrolyte) in electrolysis. There's a good possibility that ancestors of microbes/plants living there today have been engineered by Mars' humans to battle the atmospheric CO2 increase, just as we are doing today on Earth. Plants also deliver water from ground to atmosphere, so they might be creating water buffers at upper layers. This biosphere thus has a separate carbon/oxygen cycle from the abiotic one in the atmosphere with which it only seasonally interacts. Because the visible surface on Mars may generally not be the surface where complex lifeforms ever lived, one cannot expect to find any evidence of such life there. But, below the ice (condensed troposphere), in the real crust of Mars one can expect to find both, extant and extinct life (even humanoid fossils, although these may be harder to find due to short-term species significance). Of course, below the crust, particularly below lithosphere, Mars should be full of diverse life. Overall, the near-surface biosphere is only a small part of life spreading from the atmosphere to the core, forming a homo.omega individual. Testing the conditions I have tested the viability of proton transfer through water ice. The solution included a residue from electrolysis (copper oxide, iron oxide), residue from pencil sharpening (graphite, 2-3 slices of wood), and, unplanned, 4 dead flies (the solution waited some time for the experiment..):
The solutionThe solution
Fig. 2: The solution
A copper electrode with gold plated contact was added, to be used as cathode:
The solution with cathode added
Fig. 3: Solution with cathode added
After freezing on -23°C for 18 hours, the copper anode and water were added to the solution:
The solution after freezing
Fig. 4: Solution after freezing
A couple of minutes after exposing the solution to +22°C room atmosphere and connecting the electrodes to a 4.0 V DC source, the voltage was observed to be dropping (the instrument doesn't detect changes below 1 mV).
Average temperature on Mars is -63°C, but the temperature can go up to 30°C in summer. Note that due to extremely low pressure, temperature on Mars doesn't feel as cold as on Earth (-70°C on Mars would feel as -34°C on Earth), making maintenance of temperature less challenging for complex organisms.
After 20 minutes the oxidation of copper on the anode was becoming clearly visible (to naked eye). By now some ice on the edges melted and small amount of water was now under the ice. The cathode, however, was still inside the ice and hydrogen was not coming out, indicating that protons (hydrogen ions) are being delivered to cathode through ice and that hydrogen gas is building up inside the ice. After 45 minutes bubbles of hydrogen were observed to come out of the bottom of the ice. The bubbles were large and the bubbling was not continuous, further confirming the buildup inside the ice. Scaling this to Mars, a required voltage for the same current would be: $\displaystyle U_1 = {d_1 \over d_0} {{r_0}^2 \over {r_1}^2} U_0 = 960 V$ for U0 = 4 V, d0 = 0.04 m = thickness of the ice in the solution, d1 = 1500 m = thickness of the ice cover on Mars, r0 = 0.08 m = cross-section radius of ice in the solution, r1 = 1 m = cross-section radius of the ice column on Mars. This is a very low voltage requirement, easily achievable on Mars. Of course, the usage of the cross-section radius parameter in such form and value is debatable, but actual requirements for the phenomena are much lower due to following: The phenomena has very low requirements overall, but if there are specially evolved proton conductors (plants/hair) on Mars, the voltage is not an issue and ion exchange becomes much easier. And if suitable conditions are there, life should be there. Paper revised/updated. Small updates. Chapter Hypothesis updated. Small updates elsewhere. Small updates.


Inverted references (Signals)

At the Mountains of Madness (1931), H. P. Lovecraft