Journal of Astrobiology and Space Science Reviews
Call for Commentary: Evidence of Life on Mars?
Evidence of Life on Mars? Call for Commentary

Evidence of Life on Mars? Call for Critical Commentary

Evidence of Life on Mars?
-Journal of Astrobiology and Space Science Reviews, 2019, 1, 40-81

--Call for Critical Commentary--
(No submission or publication charges)

The monograph, "Evidence of Life on Mars?" has been peer reviewed on behalf of the Journal of Astrobiology and Space Science Reviews, by fourteen scientists and Senior Editors, three of whom rejected and eleven of whom recommended publication.

The official position of the Journal is: "Evidence is not proof and there is no proof of life on Mars."

Recognizing the controversial implications, the editors are inviting the scientific community to publish Critical Commentary pro or con (2000 word limit), and to discuss and debate the evidence and observations presented.

Commentary must be scholarly and cite references to substantiate the views expressed.

Commentators may also discuss their own or related work and may speculate about the implications for science, philosophy, medicine, theology, and government policy.

EMBARGO: In fairness to those who intend to publish Critical Commentary, the attached article is embargoed until May 21 of 2019. Please do not provide it to or discuss it with reporters, bloggers, or social media.

Commentary must include a title, authors' names and affiliations, a brief abstract, and should cite references and follow the manuscript references-guidelines as exemplified by the attached article.

Commentary will be peer reviewed.

All commentary will be published simultaneously with the official publication of "Evidence of Life on Mars?" in the online, open access Journal of Astrobiology and Space Science Reviews.

Submit Commentary as a PDF.
DEADLINE: March 20, 2019.
(2000 Word Limit)

Abstract: Evidence of Life on Mars?
Journal of Astrobiology and Space Science Reviews, 2019, 1, 40-81

"Evidence is reviewed which supports the hypothesis that prokaryotes and eukaryotes may have colonized Mars. One source of Martian life, is Earth. A variety of species remain viable after long term exposure to the radiation intense environment of space, and may survive ejection from Earth following meteor strikes, ejection from the stratosphere and mesosphere via solar winds, and sterilization of Mars-bound spacecraft; whereas simulations studies have shown that prokaryotes, fungi and lichens survive in simulated Martian environments--findings which support the hypothesis life may have been repeatedly transferred from Earth to Mars. Four independent investigators have reported what appears to be fungi and lichens on the Martian surface, whereas a fifth investigator reported what may be cyanobacteria. In another study, a statistically significant majority of 70 experts, after examining Martian specimens photographed by NASA, identified and agreed fungi, basidiomycota (“puffballs”), and lichens may have colonized Mars. Fifteen specimens resembling and identified as "puffballs" were photographed emerging from the ground over a three day period. It is possible these latter specimens are hematite and what appears to be “growth” is due to a strong wind which uncovered these specimens--an explanation which cannot account for before and after photos of what appears to be masses of fungi growing atop and within the Mars rovers. Terrestrial hematite is in part fashioned and cemented together by prokaryotes and fungi, and thus Martian hematite may also be evidence of biology. Three independent research teams have identified sediments on Mars resembling stromatolites and outcroppings having micro meso and macro characteristics typical of terrestrial microbialites constructed by cyanobacteria. Quantitative morphological analysis determined these latter specimens are statistically and physically similar to terrestrial stromatolites. Reports of water, biological residue discovered in Martian meteor ALH84001, the seasonal waning and waxing of atmospheric and ground level Martian methane which on Earth is 90% due to biology and plant growth and decay, and results from the 1976 Mars Viking Labeled Release Experiments indicating biological activity, also support the hypothesis that Mars was, and is, a living planet. Nevertheless, much of the evidence remains circumstantial and unverified, and the possibility of life on Mars remains an open question.

Caveats and Conclusions: Evidence of Life on Mars?
Journal of Astrobiology and Space Science Reviews, 2019, 1, 40-81

"We have presented a body of observations and evidence which supports the hypothesis Mars may have been, and may still be, a living planet. Although disagreements and differing interpretations and hypotheses abound, there is no factual, scientific evidence proving or even strongly supporting a purely abiotic explanation for the data and observations presented here which we believe favors biology. Thus, the null hypothesis is rejected.

Admittedly, abiogenic factors can't be ruled out. Conversely, at present, there is no microscopic evidence depicting cells or intra-cellular structure and thus no definitive proof of Martian life. Moreover, although organisms can survive in space or in simulated Mars-like environments, there is no proof they can flourish on Mars. It is also very difficult to distinguish, with a high level of confidence, between what may be living organisms vs sedimentary structures. Similarities in morphology are not proof. In many respects the observations presented here could be described as circumstantial and do not rise to the level of "extraordinary evidence" thus precluding "extraordinary claims." Although, collectively, the evidence, in total, weighs in favor of biology, we can only conclude that the question of life on Mars remains unanswered."