Desert Varnish shows existing Life on Mars

From: Andrew Johnson

Date: 2005-09-21 18:42:00

More from Sir Charles Shults III   www.xenotechresearch… top section of this seems to have bad text colours, so I have copied the text below: Living organisms have now been located and confirmed on Mars.  They have been present in many of the images, but overlooked due to their humble appearance.  The organisms are present in the material known as “desert varnish”. Simple organisms that live by oxidizing metals are now known to be the cause of the mysterious “desert varnish” seen in terrestrial deserts and now on Mars.  Even NASA stated that they expected to find desert varnish based on Pathfinder and Viking images, reaching all the way back to 1976.  What they did not know at the time is that desert varnish is caused by microorganisms, not by simple mineral processes. This image from Spirit, Sol 602 shows a typical desert varnish coating (blue-black on the rocks),.  Click here for a false-color stereo view of the varnish.  Click the image for a full-sized view. Here is another desert varnish coating from Spirit, Sol 604.  It shows the same rock coating with the same coloring.  The color of desert varnish results from the metals that it consumes.  Dust and clay particles are carried by wind to the rock face, where the organisms and moisture cause it to stick,  Iron and manganese in the dust is then oxidized by the organisms, producing the blue-black color in this case. Click here for a false-color stereo image of the desert varnish.  Click the image for a full-sized color view. How do we know that organisms are the cause? An analysis of desert varnish was performed by researchers years ago in an effort to find the source.  It had previously been assumed to be a purely geochemical process involving weathering and simple chemistry.  However, in an article by Ronald I. Dorn and Theodore M. Oberlander (Science Volume 213, 1981), the conclusion that desert varnish was the result of microbial activity was strongly supported.  According to the two, the bacteria absorb trace amounts of manganese and iron from the wind blown silt and precipitate it as a black layer of manganese oxide or reddish iron oxide on the rock surfaces. This thin layer also includes cemented clay particles which help to shield the bacteria against desiccation, extreme heat and intense solar radiation. Desert varnish takes thousands of years to grow and is extremely hardy.  It depends on minute traces of moisture and wind-borne particles of silt that contain the metals needed to keep it alive.  Later research proved that organisms were found in every case, associated with the varnish.  In particular, organisms known as Metallogenium and Pedomicrobium are found in many cases in the varnish.  In the words of the original researchers: They consist of minute spherical, rod- shaped or pear-shaped cells only 0.4 to 2 micrometers long, with peculiar cellular extensions. In fact, the individual cells are smaller than human red blood cells which are about 7.5 micrometers in diameter. Because of the radiating filaments from individual cells and colonies, they are called appendaged bacteria. All living systems require the vital energy molecule ATP (adenosine triphosphate) in order to function. In our cells ATP is constantly produced within minute bodies called mitochondria. As electrons flow along the membranes of our mitochondria, molecules of ATP are generated. The electrons come from the breakdown (oxidation) of glucose from our diet. Although varnish bacteria do not have mitochondria, they do have a similar inner membrane structure through which electrons flow to generate ATP. However, in varnish bacteria the electrons come from the oxidation of manganese and iron rather than glucose. Herein lies the marvelous adaptive advantage for producing a layer of black and red varnish on desert boulders. Further astounding findings about desert varnish Later findings showed that strange amino acids, not associated with terrestrial life, are often found in desert varnish.  Not only that, but the amino acids in question are mirror-imaged to the amino acids that life on Earth uses.  This property of handedness (called chirality) is used to classify molecules by the way they polarize light.  RIght handed and left handed versions of amino acids exist, and life on Earth exclusively uses left handed amino acids and proteins.  Not only that, but life on Earth uses 20 specific amino acids, although others exist.  Of all the hundreds of possible amino acids, only twenty are present in terrestrial life, and only those twenty are coded for in the genetic messages in our cells. But alien life might use other amino acids- in fact, biochemists have even found other “bases” that can exist in the genetic code but do not.  Other life could easily use a completely foreign genetic language, and would likely end up using amino acids and codons that cannot exist in terrestrial life.  In fact, this is expected to be the case due to some important considerations. Carbon-containing meteorites and life There is a category of meteorite called “carbonaceous chondrites” that sometimes fall to Earth.  In every one so far examined, traces of amino acids have been found, and in every case those amino acids were often foreign to life on Earth.  They are known and can be synthesized in the laboratory, but they are never observed in Earthly organisms.  The question is, how did those amino acids get inside meteorites?  What made them? In part, the answer could be that random chemical actions that create “tholin”, the primordial stuff of life, can make them.  Tholin experiments have so far created 17 of the 20 amino acids in terrestrial life, completely at random.  So it is not that unlikely that those same random reactions might create small amounts of those other amino acids as well.  But if we found that these odd amino acids were present again and again in something found on Earth, we might have to conclude that they were being made all along. The findings that desert varnish often contains D-alanine and D-glutamic acid (two right handed amino acids) as well as others, indicates a process that is producing these backwards amino acids inside the varnish.  The cause would be the organisms themselves, but terrestrial organisms do not produce these materials.  Could there be another explanation? Martian meteorites often have desert varnish on them The most amazing discovery is one that was overlooked and dismissed- Martian meteorites often have desert varnish on them.  I can prove that this varnish was present before the meteorites reached Earth in at least one case.  The ALH-84001 meteorite was found in Antarctica, yet it already had a coating of desert varnish.  It could not have possibly formed in Antarctica, because the wind blown particles of silt and clay did not exist in Antarctica.  Therefore, the varnish had to be present before the meteorite arrived in Antarctica.  The only place the meteorite had been previously is the planet Mars.  Furthermore, the images we have received prove that desert varnish exists on Mars. Therefore, the Martian meteorite ALH-84001 has returned a sample of Martian desert varnish to Earth, and this also means that other Martian meteorites (which also have desert varnish) could have carried these organisms here previously.  But how would we know if an alien organism from Mars was actually responsible for desert varnish on this planet? Backwards amino acids If we were to analyze alien life, we would expect differences in the chemistry, and in particular the chirality or “handedness” of the amino acids present.  But we see exactly that in common desert varnish samples here on Earth.  Based on the observations on Mars and here on Earth, I will make a simple prediction that is testable through analysis of these organisms and the surface of Martian meteorites. The prediction is that when we examine the biochemistry of desert varnish organisms, we will find that (1) their genetic code will be different from the terrestrial genetic code in how the codons spell out which amino acids are to be transcribed and (2) that the makeup of those organisms will incorporate some right handed amino acids not found in terrestrial life.  In other words, I am predicting that at least some desert varnish organisms are imported alien life forms, in particular originating on the planet Mars. Here is a paper that clearly shows the steps take in researching desert varnish and how odd these organisms are.  The researchers who authored the paper are Randall S. Perry and Vera M. Kolb.  Here is an article showing that the author was aware of the chemical complexity (but apparently not the biological connection) of desert varnish formation.  The chemistry was well laid out and showed hard research in locating the specifics, but the mechanism was not well understood because biology had not been considered as the reason. Here is an excellent article on desert varnish and other organisms such as llchens.  Many of these growths are red-orange or yellow, and if found on Mars might blend in with the rocks to the point of invisibility.  NASA also undertook a study about desert varnish and its cause, in relation to Mars.  Here is a summary page showing what they hoped to accomplish (in 2001) but I have not found any results online.

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