Dark dune spots: Possible biomarkers on mars?

Tibor Gánti, András Horváth, Szaniszló Bérczi, Albert Gesztesi, E. Szathmáry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Dark Dune Spots (DDSs) are transitional geomorphologic formations in the frost-covered polar regions of Mars. Our analysis of the transformations and arrangements of subsequent stages of DDSs into time sequence revealed their: (i) hole-like characteristics, (ii) development and formation from the bottom of the frosted layer till the disapperance of the latter, (iii) repeated (seasonal and annual) appearance in a pattern of multiple DDSs on the surface, and (iv) probable origin. We focused our studies on a model in which DDSs were interpreted as objects triggered by biological activity involved in the frosting and melting processes. We discuss two competing interpretations of DDSs: development by defrosting alone, and by defrosting and melting enhanced by the activity of Martian Surface Organisms (MSOs). MSOs are hypothetical Martian photosynthetic surface organisms thought to absorb sunlight. As a result they warm up by late winter and melt the ice around them, whereby their growth and reproduction become possible. The ice cover above the liquid water lens harbouring the MSOs provides excellent heat and UV insulation, prevents fast evaporation, and sustains basic living conditions until the ice cover exists. When the frost cover disappears MSOs go to a dormant, desiccated state. We propose further studies to be carried out by orbiters and landers travelling to Mars and by analysis of partial analogues on earth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-557
Number of pages43
JournalOrigins of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere
Volume33
Issue number4-5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003

Fingerprint

Ice Cover
Mars
dunes
Freezing
biomarker
dune
biomarkers
Biomarkers
Cold Climate
Sunlight
Social Conditions
organisms
Ice
ice
Lenses
Reproduction
melting
frost
Hot Temperature
ice cover

Keywords

  • Astrobiology
  • Dark Dune Spots (DDSs)
  • Frosting-defrosting
  • Geomorphologic analysis of DDSs
  • Life on Mars
  • Mars Global Surveyor
  • Mars Odyssey
  • Martian Surface Organisms (MSOs)
  • Southern Polar Region of Mars
  • Water ice and liquid water on Mars

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Dark dune spots : Possible biomarkers on mars? / Gánti, Tibor; Horváth, András; Bérczi, Szaniszló; Gesztesi, Albert; Szathmáry, E.

In: Origins of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere, Vol. 33, No. 4-5, 10.2003, p. 515-557.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Gánti, Tibor ; Horváth, András ; Bérczi, Szaniszló ; Gesztesi, Albert ; Szathmáry, E. / Dark dune spots : Possible biomarkers on mars?. In: Origins of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere. 2003 ; Vol. 33, No. 4-5. pp. 515-557.
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