8 Signs of Life NASA is Looking for on Mars

Ever since David Bowie asked the famous question, ‘Is there life on Mars?‘ humanity has been trying to find that illusive alien life there. Most people agree, this song started it all. Way to be a trend setter Bowie. We miss you. Life has been found in extremely hostile conditions on earth surprising scientists everywhere. But to this day, NASA has sent five Mars Rovers to the red planet and found no signs anywhere.

But what exactly are they looking for? The signs of life whether current or ancient is something very scientific and much more nuanced and complicated than looking for little green men walking up to Perseverance’s camera. Here are a list of some of the top things that astrobiologists are hoping to find on Mars that would indicate life.

1. Discolored Rocks

Discolored Rocks could be a sign of life on Mars
Discolored Rocks could be a sign of life on Mars Edited Image by J3matthews, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

NASA probes and rovers love rocks. What they really love are colorful rocks. A common misconception is that NASA is looking for the existence of ancient microbes which might have grown on these rocks and discolored them. This is actually scientific baloney because ancient bacteria isn’t cool enough to sell T-shirts. Colored rocks suggest the existence of a sapient species who paint things for the artistic value or a tourist trap right outside of Vegas. This is why they used an iMac processor for Perseverance instead of a boring windows one to potentially capture all of the art.

2. Shards of Pottery

What it would look like if Scientists found Hellenistic Influence on the Red Planet
What it would look like if Scientists found Hellenistic Influence on the Red Planet Edited Image by Reptonix free Creative Commons licensed photos, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Much like on earth, NASA’s probes and rovers are scouring the surface of Mars for pottery fragments. Clay doesn’t fire by itself. Additionally, it would teach scientists much more about what type of life existed on Mars. Just by the way the shards are, astrobiologists would be able to determine whether or not ancient Martians had Etruscan, Babylonian, or maybe even Chinese influences. The shards would show the difference because according to academic consensus, there is no parallel thought in pottery.

3. An Interstate System

What a mile marker would look like if NASA found one 164 miles away from a 14 mile high volcano. You can see it from here on a clear day
What a mile marker would look like if NASA found one 164 miles away from a 14 mile high volcano. You can see it from here on a clear day

Scientists have postulated that for life to exist on such an arid planet such as mars, there would need to be a massive and intricate network of roads. The resources on the planet are too spread apart! Thankfully, a well made road is something that could last centuries if not thousands of years. Unfortunately, if there ever was life on Mars, they either made terrible roads or died out a long time ago because there is still no sign of any highway system.

4. That Stuff Still Growing on Your Fired Coworker’s Meatball Sub

Mars Perseverance rover checking in on a meatball sub it left out days earlier to attract life
 Mars Perseverance rover checking in on a meatball sub it left out days earlier to attract life. Edited Image by jeffreyw, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Since the first Rover touched down on Mars, NASA has been leaving meatball subs and other bread based meals in an attempt to attract mold just like your coworker who got canned before lunch because of that dumb thing he said in the Morning tag up meeting. Just like that Meatball sub that no one bothered to toss months after he left, NASA is hoping to find some extra terrestrial mold growing in the bread. This would be an exciting sign of life!

5. Gang Tags

Early Graffiti'd boulder, unfortunately it was not proven to be gang related and was not a strong indication of life on Mars as it could have occured naturally
Early Graffiti’d boulder, unfortunately it was not proven to be gang related and was not a strong indication of life on Mars as it could have occured naturally (Boulder Image by Karsten Bergmann from Pixabay)

While this may not indicate the existence of current life, scientists are hoping that ancient martian life did not practice broken window policing. While roads and pottery shards may be hard to find, if some ancient martian gang were to have spray painted boulders all over their on territory, it would be very easy to spot. It would also be a strong indicator of life on mars.

6. Combination Taco Bell and Long John Silvers

What astrobiologists dream of finding while operating the Mars Rovers Edited Image by DangApricot, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The absolute minimum amount of evidence for life are chain restaurants. Most science fiction writers have theorized that for such a long supply chain, the only restaurant chains which would be willing to expand to mars would be taco bell and Long John Silvers. Because of the slow consumer traffic, an advanced excel spread sheet has determined that a combination Long John Silvers and Taco Bell is the only feasible restaurant that could be profitable on the red planet. This is why NASA has equipped the past two rovers with sensors which can specifically detect Diablo sauce and tartar sauce residue. Statistically speaking, if one sauce is detected, it is more likely a false alarm. If both are detected in one location, the existence of ancient life on mars is strongly indicated.

7. Yellow Snow

On earth we are warned to watch out for yellow snow. On mars, yellow snow is a strong indicator of life and NASA has been looking for it for years. “Not only would life need water to survive, yellow snow would be a direct indication of current life,” one NASA astrobiologist commented. “Our models we made with the 2008 software Spore show that the presence of yellow snow would indicate a 84% chance of life, if that yellow snow spells out a name in cursive the chance increases to 99.6%!”

8. The Tacoma Dome

What a Tacoma Dome sighting might be like as imagined by imagineers
What a Tacoma Dome sighting might be like as imagined by imagineers Edited Image by SchmuckyTheCat, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

While Fenway Park and Wriggley Field being found on Mars can be easily explained through geology, there is no natural explanation if the Tacoma Dome were to be found. For any given planetary life, as time approaches infinity or any sufficiently large number, the probability of a Tacoma Dome being constructed converges to 100%. Luckily for the many Mars rovers, this search can be done by satellite probes and telescopes. Unfortunately, the amount of imagery to search through is immense. With only one Tacoma Dome on earth to train an aerial image detector as used with synthetic aperture radars , it has been a tough task. Maybe one day, NASA will have enough funding to finish their project and build several more Tacoma Domes. With more Tacoma Domes, it would only be a matter of processing power!

If you enjoyed this scientific clickbait please like, share, and subscribe with your email, our twitter handle (@JABDE6), our facebook group hereor the Journal of Immaterial Science Subreddit for weekly content.

Published by B McGraw

B McGraw has lived a long and successful professional life as a software developer and researcher. After completing his BS in spaghetti coding at the department of the dark arts at Cranberry Lemon in 2005 he wasted no time in getting a masters in debugging by print statement in 2008 and obtaining his PhD with research in screwing up repos on Github in 2014. That's when he could finally get paid. In 2018 B McGraw finally made the big step of defaulting on his student loans and began advancing his career by adding his name on other people's research papers after finding one grammatical mistake in the Peer Review process.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: