Authors: Otto O. Binder
Some probings have indicated much cooler temperatures in the polar-zones of Venus, where life might still lurk. Or it may be that living creatures, unable to evolve on the furnace-hot surface, instead made their debut in the cool regions of the upper atmosphere. With an estimated atmosphere at least ninety times more dense than Earth's, huge gelatinous creatures could float comfortably in the aerial reaches without ever touching the hellhot surface.
And so, the exobiology race may be won (if the Russian space-signal claim proves invalid) by evidence of extraterrestrial life right in our own backyard, among the sun's family of planets.
Now we come to the “great white hope” – or red hope – of exobiology, the planet Mars.
As one science writer puts it, “Discovery of living organisms in other places [than Earth] would vastly expand the biologists' perspective. The immediate target in the search for extraterrestrial life is the planet Mars.”
In laboratory experiments with gases simulating Earth's ancient atmosphere, scientists have bombarded the gaseous mixture with high-energy radiation and have found that organic molecules were formed, including amino acids, the building blocks of vital protein.
A similar experiment was recently performed for Mars, with one difference – the gaseous mixture represented the Martian atmosphere
When bathed in ultraviolet radiation, the gases combined into organic molecules.
If nothing else, this proves the Martian atmosphere is not unfavorable to life there, if life exists at all.
By far the great majority of scientists of all disciplines believes someday word will come that life exists on Mars. Primitive life is the consensus, perhaps only rudimentary plant life and no animal life whatsoever, although some scientists more cautiously cover their bets and allow even simple animal species to be included – worms, slugs, insects, and the like.
One of the main reasons Mars has fascinated scientists, and given rise to speculations of indigenous life there, is because the planet's disk in any good-sized telescope has regularly displayed a spreading of greenish-gray colors
during the spring
in either hemisphere, plus a withering away of such
during the winter season.
Large portions of the ocher-red areas on Mars are thought to be deserts (and give Mars its reddish hue as a star), but these are invaded regularly each Martian spring by the creeping green-gray mystery.
If there is plant life on Mars, what kind of vegetation is it? Is it utterly alien, or is it something akin to the Earth's greenery?
Recent spectroscopic examinations of the green areas of Mars show that the observed spectrum resembles the spectrum of lichen as observed here on Earth more than any other Earthly vegetation.
In 1956, a new green area about the size of Texas was observed. It was located in an area that had shown only reddish desert hues before.
It is not surprising that, when a U.S. scientist undertook to grow lichen, it was in a partial vacuum that simulated, as nearly as possible, the conditions and gases that are understood to exist on Mars. The lichen grew and prospered.
The astounding conditions under which this lichen grew should be examined.
The temperature ranged from approximately minus 100°F to plus 80°F, and the pressure was approximately 0.75 pounds per square inch. (The pressure on Earth's surface is about 14.7 pounds per square inch.) The only moisture was vapor in the form of dew. The oxygen was very low – so low that Man would die in it.
Yet this lichen grew and seemed to thrive.
There is a most happy agreement between the spectroscopic observations that indicate there are lichen-like plant growths in the green areas of Mars, and the astounding ability of Earth lichen to grow in a simulated Martian atmosphere.
Now, how does this information apply to the Earth-colony theory? In this way: It might well be that when the starmen first came to the solar system, ages ago, Mars had more atmosphere and water, thus offering them a liveable colony-world.
Or Mars may simply have been used as a convenient base of operations for the starmen in making visits to nearby Earth during their grand experiment in creating Hybrid Man. Either possibility is valid.
If Mars was their base in the past, it still may be that today. This would account for the
phenomenon of probable green-lichen crops sprouting each year and spreading widely over the planet, and particularly for the surprising
areas that suddenly turn green for the first time.
It is unlikely that natural vegetation would so successfully encroach into territory that had apparently been arid and lifeless before. It is far easier to think of starmen agriculturists using advanced techniques to prepare the soil, furnish irrigation, and increase their edible acreage as needed.
We might also mention briefly, just for the record, that there seems to be a correlation between the oppositions of Mars to Earth (nearest approach) every twenty-six months, and the increased numbers of UFOs sighted around the world.
Second, strange radio-signals seem to be periodically picked up from Mars, according to claims that are unsubstantiated or, at least, rejected by scientists. Still, such famous electrical wizards as Tesla and Marconi firmly believed they had tuned in alien radiomessages from Mars.
And still today, stubborn reports come in from ham-radio operators of inexplicable shortwave signals from the same source.
It is hardly likely that the starmen at their presumed Martian camp are trying to communicate with Earth, but it might be that the signals picked up are simply “leaks” in their own communications links on Mars or from Mars to Earth – if they are acting in modern times as watchdogs on their Earth colony.
Again, we will not pursue the above nebulous speculations but will point out that if the Earth-colony/Hybrid Man theory is correct, all those points someday might well turn out to be close to the truth.
At any rate, we may soon find out if the spreading greengray mystery of Mars represents plant life or not. In 1976, U.S. Martian-landers, aboard Viking spacecraft borne there by rockets, investigated the surface at first hand (perhaps preceded unfortunately by Soviet landers who will steal the glory).
Both Russian and American lander vehicles (unmanned, of course) will be equipped with one or more life-detection systems, ingenious, if tiny, “chemical labs” that will draw in Martian soil or air and analyze it for key life-ingredients. If something like nucleic acid is detected, or DNA, RNA, phosphates – there are a dozen similar key organic substances – that will do it!
Biologists will instantly announce that there is something alive on Mars, even if they haven't the slightest idea what form of life, whether primitive plant or protozoan representative of animal life.
But nothing more will be necessary to establish the fact that there is extraterrestrial life, from which will come a thundering series of “therefores.”
, there can and must be life on staggering millions of other planets of other solar systems.
, by certain overwhelming statistical data, there must be evolved life on countless worlds, including intelligent beings.
We will add one special “therefore” of our own.
Therefore, the concept of starmen visiting Earth long ago to start a colony, and creating Hybrid Man, should take a strong position as the most likely theory as to the origin of mankind on Earth.
Yes, the discovery of life on Mars, or intelligent signals picked up by radio-telescopes, or the observation of organic space-clouds forming protein, or the presence of fossil protein molecules in meteorites, or perhaps the unexpected arrival of a spaceship itself,
any one of these can infuse tremendous vitality into our theory of colony Earth and Hybrid Man.
And one of these signposts to universal life can come to fruition
, or may have occurred before this book is published. (In fact, if the Russian claim of picking up alien outer-space signals in October 1973 has been verified, then the radio-astronomy people have won this “exobiology race.”)
A word should also be said about the so-called
of Mars, a controversial feature of the Red Planet for almost a century, since Schiaparelli in 1877 first announced the intricate pattern of lines he saw on the face of Mars through his telescope.
The pros and cons over whether the canals were real or optical illusions raged for over half a century, with the negative forces slowly gaining ground. They have seemed fully vindicated through the U.S. Martian Mariners, the flyby and orbiting space vehicles that, since 1967 have taken many thousands of pictures and TV scannings of the planet's surface. The photos first of all turned up the rather jolting surprise (except to Immanuel Velikovsky, who
them in 1950) that the Martian surface was pitted with craters much like the Earth's moon.
But nary a canal showed up, except very vague streaks that could be some shadowy distortion or other geological formation.
That is, all
photos and TV transmissions (the only kind there are so far) show no canals.
Yet the authors wish to state firmly that we believe the canal controversy cannot be resolved until
pictures are transmitted from Mars-orbiting vehicles for a period of at least two years.
Why two years? Because the Martian year is almost twice as long as Earth's. Therefore, it takes two Earth years for Mars to go through one complete cycle of the four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter.
And only by photographing from space this complete cycle in full color, to bring out the advance and retreat of the gray-green areas, can we then get a glimpse of the still-possible canals. For the green color will be most “alive” and thriving along any waterways that are filled, in the spring, with melting polar ice.
Earth's biggest telescopes could never photograph the canals that the human eye apparently detected on Mars. Neither can black-and-white cameras aboard orbiting vehicles detect them, for they are probably very narrow channels. Only by capturing the intense new green pathways of plants invigorated by fresh water can the implied presence of canals be registered – in color. The canals may be far too shallow to cast any shadows or give any direct hint of their presence.
There are certain clues to that possibility. For one thing, many observers through the years, independently of one another and without knowledge of the others' work, drew sketches of the canals they believed they saw.
And some of those canals were in precisely the same places in various drawings. Furthermore, certain photos that showed vague canal-like markings, when superimposed over the hand-drawn sketches also fitted in a way that seems beyond coincidence.
Still, why are those canals, if really there, not visible to the sharp lenses of space probes orbiting nearby?
There is one possible explanation. As is now established, Mars is not a “quiet, dead world” as once thought but is in a dynamic phase of constant “storms” and geographical changes. Among its most spectacular and regular weather features are huge dust storms of such a violent nature that they cover half the globe at a time.
The 1971 Martian probes met this kind of storm of yellowish dust, which obliterated the surface for months before the atmosphere finally cleared.
Dust? Yes, dust. And what does dust do when it is blown around over a planet's surface with many pits, craters and cracks in it?
It fills or partially fills them
, as proved by various Mariner photos.
Therefore, it is not at all unreasonable to suspect that those dust storms, operating for almost a century since Schiaparelli first saw his sensational lines across Mars, have
in the canals. And just as high-altitude space satellites above Earth's surface have detected the outlines of subsea formations and, on land, of
various kinds of terrain unseen in any other way, it may be that only from the distant vantage point of Earth can the dust-clogged canals of Mars stand out. It may even be that Martian orbiting probes with
cameras will in the future also trace out those buried canals, whose existence is so far denied.
Let us put it that the last word has not yet been said on whether the canals of Mars are myth or reality.
Canals aside, the Martian pictures that came back from the orbiters in 1971 and 1972 showed other gross features that stood out with sharp clarity. If the pictures
not show canals as such, they did show many signs of abundance of water on Mars in ages past, and other clues that indicate water may still exist on Mars today in free form, in greater quantities than expected.
Erosion, for instance. The photos clearly show faults, ridges, and sand dunes, all definite signs of erosion by
, nothing else.
And such erosion signs could not all freeze into eternal surface features lasting for millions of years. Some of them must be recent erosion effects, in line with the current dynamic model of Martian meteorology.
Volcanic structures on Mars, and striated sediment layers, also proclaim the past or present action of water in considerable quantities – enough, in fact, to discard the old bone-dry Mars theory (as we discarded the dust-covered-moon theory after our astronauts landed there).
That Mars once had extensive water-resources is highlighted by a report from the U.S. Geological Survey after their experts pored over the Mariner photos from Mars.
“All along the northern edge of the high plateau,” says [Harold] Masursky, “one can see stream channels that vary in size from very small to a kilometer in width and thousands of kilometers in length. They are highly braided tributaries. These sinuous channels [sic!] could be the result of ubiquitous water, or a fantastic series of volcanic channels that we do not understand.”