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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jun > Jun 15

Search For Life On Mars With Your Computer

From: Stig Agermose <wanderer@post8.tele.dk>
Date: Tue, 16 Jun 1998 03:14:30 +0200
Fwd Date: Mon, 15 Jun 1998 22:05:58 -0400
Subject: Search For Life On Mars With Your Computer

From the BBC.



Links are preceded by asterisks.



Monday, June 15, 1998 Published at 12:59 GMT 13:59 UK

Search for life on Mars with your computer

(Image: Are they fossils or mineral grains?)

In August 1996 Nasa scientists stunned the world by claiming
they had found tiny fossilised micro-organisms in a
meteorite from Mars. Now anyone with a computer can help
look for some more. Our science correspondent David
Whitehouse reports.

The fossils that scientists claimed were in the Martian
meteorite were so small that 50,000 of them could fit across
the width of a human hair. They were far smaller than any
bacteria found on Earth.

Since that time not many scientists have been prepared to
believe that they are truly fossils rather than peculiarly
shaped mineral deposits.

Many have wondered if there are any more microfossil
structures in any of the 12 known meteorites from Mars. The
problem they have is that searching for them with a powerful
microscope would take far too long.

(Image: Are there fossils in these rocks?)

Now researchers are hoping to use thousands of computers
belonging to volunteers on the Internet.

"We hope to get young scientists from elementary school
through college to help us with the search by linking their
computers to ours," said Dr David Noever of Nasa.

Dr Noever hopes to use a sophisticated series of computer
programs to learn what various types of microbial life look
like and use that knowledge to look for life-like structures
in the Mars rocks.

One of the main challenges of the task is that many things
that look life-like are not life forms and many true life
forms do not look life like at all.

Developing one powerful computer to carry out this task
would be too expensive so it is hoped that thousands of
personal computers could work together instead.

A similar technique has already been tried by astronomers
looking for signals from extraterrestrial intelligence in

Data from radio telescopes involved in the search has been
shared among hundreds of people who perform a part of the
analysis on their personal computers.

Relevant Stories

28 May 98=A0|=A0Sci/Tech
*More clues to life on Mars

11 Apr 98=A0|=A0Sci/Tech
*Life on Mars (again)

12 Mar 98=A0|=A0Sci/Tech
*Mars probe discovers 'ocean'
Internet Links

*Meteorites from Mars

*Life on Mars

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external
internet sites.
*Back to top | *BBC News Home | *BBC Homepage

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