Is there life on Mars? To date, the only planet where we have found conclusive evidence of biological life is our own. There have been rumors of water, microbes and even a gorilla on Mars, but scientists are yet to confirm whether any of these are really up there (though most agree that the gorilla probably isn’t).
However, a scientist in Ohio recently claimed to have discovered concrete, photographic proof of Mars bugs, suggesting that the red planet is not only hosting life but is positively crawling with it.
After millennia of stargazing, speculating and theorizing about the possibility of extraterrestrial life, the existence of a photograph of alien bugs – within our very own solar, system, no less – may seem too good to be true. Unfortunately, most scientists agree, and the ‘insects on Mars’ theory has been widely ridiculed by both the scientific community and the general public.
But where did the idea of insects on Mars come from in the first place, and is there any chance that it could be anything more than just wishful thinking?
Who is the ‘Mars bugs’ scientist, and what did he find?
The man who claims to have photographed life on Mars is Professor William Romoser, an entomologist (bug expert) at Ohio University. Romoser has spent years studying publicly available photographs taken by Mars rovers and, in the process, believes he has spotted a number of insect-like critters hiding among the rocks.
His findings were presented at the Entomological Society of America annual meeting in St. Louis 2019, in a poster detailing the alleged appearance of specialized insect structures in the photos. These structures (including antennae, legs, and segmented body parts) indicate (according to Romoser) ‘fossilized and living creatures’ on the surface of Mars.
It already seems a little farfetched, but when Romoser goes on to talk about the ‘reptile-like’ creatures he can also see in the pictures you start to wonder if the whole thing is a bizarre hoax.
The thing is, the subjects in the photos look a hell of a lot like plain old rocks, as most people who have seen them agree. Romoser’s argument is that you need to study the photos carefully to see the supposed space creatures, but Ohio University has since removed the press release detailing Romoser’s findings.
A possible explanation…
Prof. Romoser is clearly a highly intelligent and accomplished individual, yet his claim to see Mars bees in among the rocks is (to anyone who has actually seen the images) baffling. His additional assertion that he can also see space snakes tips things into the realm of a Rick and Mort-esque fantasy, so what’s the deal – does he really believe what he says, or is he simply winding everyone up?
One possible explanation is that Romoser is experiencing a phenomenon known as pareidolia, which describes the tendency to incorrectly perceive one object as another.
In other words, Romoser (who has spent 45 years studying bugs) really is seeing insects when he looks at the photos when, in fact, they don’t appear to show anything more than vaguely bug-shaped rocks.
Is there any life at all on Mars?
Mars bees may be a thing of fiction, but that’s not to say that Mars is just a barren chunk of rock. While the insect sightings are a little farfetched, the possibility of microbial life on Mars is far more believable. There is also strong evidence that Mars may have supported life forms in the past when its climate was warmer and water sources were more abundant.
Though there is still no concrete evidence that there are microbes on the red planet, previous expeditions to Mars have retrieved samples that suggest this may be possible. Further Martian studies have concluded that the planet was warmer and wetter a mere 5 million years ago, and it is thought that the conditions at this time could have supported life.
In the present day, however, the surface of Mars has a harsh environment that is unlikely to sustain complex life forms. Astronomers have found radar evidence of liquid water on Mars, however, and where’s there’s H2O, there’s hope that life can flourish. The recent finding of methane on Mars may also indicate the presence of biological life forms (both past and present), and there may be methane-emitting microbes lurking beneath the surface.
Whatever the answer is, scientists hope that the Mars 2020 mission (due to land in 2021) will help to shed further light on the situation.
Part of the mission’s objective is to investigate the possibility of life on Mars and, if successful, it should bring back samples and photographs that help to confirm it. Until then, we’ll just have to keep our eyes peeled for UFOs and make peace with the fact that, as yet, no extraterrestrial life forms have been found beyond the confines of our own planet.
Last year, an entomologist named Professor William Romoser presented something incredible at the Entomological Society of America annual meeting – an actual photograph of insects on the surface of Mars. But if you’re already reaching for your tinfoil hat, you might want to take a beat to check out the pictures for yourself, first. You may find (like a lot of people before you) that Romoser’s bugs look an awful lot like plain old rocks.
Though sensational, the story that made international headlines at the end of last year is probably just a tall tale. That’s not to say that there aren’t aliens out there but, for now, the Universe is holding on to her secrets.