People have been preoccupied with finding life on Mars for hundreds of years, ever since Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli turned his telescope to the red planet, making him the first man to map Mars. Mr Schiaparelli observed the dark areas, which he assumed to be seas, connected by linear features of hundreds of kilometers long, called "canals." The findings captured the public's imagination, triggering an obsession that has lingered ever since
Algae, lichens and "Martian mushrooms" have all appeared to be photographed by the NASA rovers Opportunity and Curiosity
And pictures of 15 mushroom-shaped specimens purport to
Dr. Regina Dass, of the Department of Microbiology, School of Life Sciences, India, the study's co-author said: "There are no geological or other abiogenic forces on the Earth, which can produce sedimentary structures, by the hundreds, which have mushroom shapes, stems, stalks, and sheds that look like spores on the surrounding surface
"In fact, fifteen specimens were photographed hed by NASA growing out of the ground in just three days. "
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And Dr Vincenzo Rizzo, and the National Research Council biogeologist also points to the seasonal fluctuations in Martian methane as a supplementary evidence of life
He said: "As we detail in our article, 90 percent of terrestrial methane is biological in origin and seasonal fluctuations in atmospheric
"The cyclic fluctuations in Martian methane are reflective of active biology, which is also depicted in before and after pictures of specimens photographed by NASA."
However, evidence is so controversial, the prestigious Journal of Astrobiology and Space Science Reviews has submitted the article to an extensive peer review by six independent scientists and eight senior editors
And while three of these rej
The journal's official position is: "Evidence is not proof and there is no proof of life on Mars."
"Abiogenic explanations for this evidence can not be ruled out. "
Some scientists believe the circular specimens photographed emerging from under the Martian soil, are not mushrooms but hematite, a form of iron oxide, which NASA affectionately refers to as" blueberries. "
Dr Rizzo said : "We are not disagreeing with NASA. NASA has some of the greatest scientists and engineers in the world
"However, hematite is also a product of biological activity.
"Just as stromatolites are fashioned together through the action of cyanobacteria, fungi and bacteria also help to cement hemtite together
" We would expect that same biological processes helped fashion hematite on Mars. "
Dr. Dass added:" Hematite also does not take the shape of lichens. "
" These Martian specimens have mushroom-shapes, stalks and stems and are the same height and have the same growth patterns as terrestrial lichens. "
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