Is There Life on Mars?

Is There Life on Mars?

Episode Description

No-nonsense Mission Two Scientist Aurore Duval reaches out to Emma to counter Alex’s claims of extraterrestrial intelligence. Her letter takes Shifters on a dangerous mission beneath the surface of Mars as they explore a lava tube cave in the search of life on the Red Planet. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Episode transcription

 

Hello, everyone! You are listening to the Red Shift- your connection to your piece of the sky. I'm your host, Emma Miller!

Hello, hello, hello, everyone! How is everyone doing today? I love that start button emote, that's fantastic. Welcome in, friends. Hopefully you've all had a wonderful, wonderful week.

To just kind of hop in really quickly, I just want to say right off the bat that the ISA has been listening the past few weeks and has really, really, really loved seeing the shift in the format of the show. So, loved seeing the kind of more interactive quizzes and training exercises, which is really cool because that means that they're going to help us have more moving forward. Very, very exciting stuff. And I'm glad that that also means that you all have been enjoying it. And I love getting a chance to chat with you all every week!

Speaking of, hi, Manja. Hi, Mimmo. Hi, Rerouted. How's it going? “We need more cowbell,” wow, that is a vintage, vintage gif if I've ever seen one, my gosh.

I also really quickly want to shout out BrightEyes and their awesome story that they shared this past week. They shared it here on the ISA-comms channel, which is awesome. It was about an experience that they had in North Carolina and a possible extraterrestrial encounter, a story that I am sure Alex appreciated quite a lot. I know that it's probably impossible to be at every show live every week, but I really love that we get a chance to, you know, share with one another when the show's not live, so thank you all for making this channel so alive!

Hi, Jon-Jon. Hi, Tony. Hi, Manja. Hi, Ila. How's it going? Hello, ZFT. Hello, Broccoli. Hi, Stephanie.

Alright, before we hop into the show itself, I just want to share a very quick story, a personal story from my own life with you all. It relates, of course, to the ISA. Honestly, I sometimes feel like my whole life has kind of been changed by doing this show and because of the ISA.

So this past weekend, the ISA actually invited me to come watch a launch where they were sending astronauts to Luna Base, which was incredible. I've seen launches… I've seen a launch before. Not from up close. It was from very far away and all I saw was a very small, little, like, line out on the horizon. This was my first launch I got to see relatively up close. Obviously, you can't be all that close. Nothing prepared me for what it felt like, and what it looked like, and the experience. It was unbelievable.

I don't know if any of you have ever seen a rocket launch or a launch in general. I– It’s– It was wild. I was sitting there on this observation area, and I just looked out, and suddenly there was this big bright spot just like right in front of me. And then it became a line as the rocket started to lift off, and it's unbelievably bright. I've never seen anything as bright, other than maybe staring directly into a lamp, a very bright LED lamp, but it's small and it's so far away, but it's so bright.

And the rocket started to lift off… and it's quiet. You don't expect it to be quiet in those moments because you know what's happening, right? You know that there's this huge chemical reaction taking place that's pushing this rocket up away from our atmosphere, out of our gravity… but it's pretty quiet.

And then it starts rumbling, the rocket’s up in the sky now, bright, and you hear this very gentle rumble, and it grows, and it grows, and then it's loud, this very loud rumbling sound, and it’s… I mean, you just, you don't expect. It was unbelievable. I can't even… I can’t even describe it.

The most amazing thing to me, honestly, was - you're watching it, you're watching this rocket lift up and you're watching as it's arching through the sky and it's so bright. And then it hits that edge of the atmosphere, and then it's still bright, but it's, like, lost its saturation almost. It's behind this screen. It's behind our atmosphere. And you know that on the other side, it's still bright and it's still going so fast and it's still out there, but it's beyond Earth at that point. It was just the most amazing moment to realize… I don't know, there’s…

You know that there's something bigger than you when it comes to space travel, obviously. It's people leaving the Earth, right? It's humanity going elsewhere. But it was cool to see it and cool to see that moment of it truly leaving our atmosphere and leaving to places not unknown, but somewhere different. It was just a really cool experience and I'm unbelievably grateful that the ISA sent me to go watch it! It was really cool! And I also got a nifty water bottle at the end of it, so that was a nice little reminder of it all. But it was a really incredible experience. If any of you have ever experienced a space-bound rocket launch, let me know in the ISA-comms channel, let me know what your thoughts were. Maybe for some people it's pretty commonplace, but for me, it was one of the coolest things I've ever experienced.

ISA Announcements

So, to transition back to our show, and thank you for obliging me my story, it's time for some ISA announcements! More specifically, it's time for me to tell you that our actual ISA announcement actually comes later in our show. It is related to our astronaut’s note of the week, so we'll be giving you some ISA announcements after that. That being said, we're going to kind of hop right on into the letter from this week from our astronaut.

This week, our astronaut is Aurore Duval, who is a fascinating scientist. She does a lot of work with chemistry on the planet and honestly, I'm just really excited that we got to showcase her this week. I think it's going to be really fun.

I will also say, as a small sidebar, it is kind of relieving to see that some of the tensions that we experienced in those early letters may have cooled a little bit on Mars Base. It seems like things are moving forward in a nice way, which is… probably a good thing.

So, let's hop right in and get to our message. I hope you all are very, very excited. Oh, and I will add, there is a game that is going to follow this note. We'll explain it more as it goes on, or after the letter, but stay tuned because, of course, you have your ISA announcement and our game. So, hang out!

With that being said, let's hop right into her letter. Keep in mind, again, these are all her words, not mine.

Aurore’s letter

“Alex means well. I know this, you know this. But, Alex also has his head in the Martian clouds - so maybe I can help bring us all back to the ground. 

My name is Aurore Duval. I have lived my life with my nose down, focused on my work. My father loved to tell the story of me at five years old telling my parents proudly that I would be an astronaut. He didn’t love the story because it was a cute thing for a child to say. He loved to tell the story because he would say that he knew in that moment that nothing would stop me from doing just that. So here I am. We were both right.

My father taught me what I needed to know about flight - he was a pilot, his head also in the clouds like Alex. Flight wasn’t my passion the way it was my father’s, though. I like being tethered to something by more than gravity. Science was my tether, the knowledge that everything has an explanation - you just need to find it. I found my answers in chemistry, in the building blocks that make up everything in the universe. 

In my personal life, my tether was more physical. I found a love of rock climbing. I tether myself in and let my mind find the pathway in front of me. I can see it like a puzzle laid out in front of me, where each hand hold is, where my feet can go. It keeps my mind and my body working. 

Why do I tell you this? Well, I want you to understand where I come from when I say that the life we look for on Mars is not the life that Alex suggested last week. It is not a massive civilization. It is not intelligent life, but primitive. It is the kind of life that would have been seen in the early oceans of Earth. Single-celled organisms, simple beings. Life at its most basic level. 

The surface of Mars is cold, dry, and subject to radiation. So where should we look for signs of life? Underground, in the caves. This is a key part of my personal mission on Mars - my experience climbing and caving was critical in my selection as one of the first astronauts to visit the Red Planet. 

From the sky we can see certain geologic structures that might have underground systems, particularly lava tube caves. Then we send rovers equipped with ground penetrating radar to map subterranean features, but the radar only penetrates a few meters down.

This past week, after the dust had settled at the base, I filed a request with Mission Control to explore a lava tube cave structure fifteen kilometers from the base. Caving is too dangerous to do alone, so I asked Alex to join me… in search of actual life on Mars. 

I always have the question in the back of my mind, you see. Whatever happened to Mars could happen to Earth. If we understand what happened, if we use the tools to find the answers, maybe we find life on Earth safer.” Or, sorry, “Maybe we keep life on Earth safer. When Alex comes, he is looking for something extraordinary. I don’t need it to be extraordinary, I just want to understand. 

Most caves on Earth have been created by water eating through limestone. Perhaps in time we will find these kinds of caves deep underground on Mars, where water, frozen now, flowed long ago. But near the surface the kinds of caves easiest to spot are lava tubes, formed by molten rock flowing from an ancient volcano. 

We set out to explore the nearby lava tube. A remote-controlled drone had shown a way in from the surface - a steep drop, and no floor detectable with the ground radar’s range. The drone had collected samples from the surface, but found nothing of note in the regolith. 

But inside the tube, protected from radiation and temperature extremes, life would have a much better chance. That’s where I would need to go to get our next samples. And again - not a thing to try alone. Alex quickly volunteered to come along. I’m sure he imagined himself belaying into a Martian cavern to find a big-headed green humanoid staring back at him with silver eyes.

We arrived at our possible entrance. Part of the lava tube’s sidewall had fallen in, exposing a steep, sloping fissure down into the dark. We drove in belaying pins and lowered ourselves into the narrow tunnel. We rappelled carefully down the inside of the cavern wall, trying to stay clear. When you imagine caves on Earth, the walls have been worn smooth by water, but a Martian cave can be obsidian instead of limestone, so you are toiling down a wall of crystal knives and broken glass. Light from our helmet lamps glanced and glittered off the tunnel walls. Here by the fissure they were still coated with red dust, but further away we could see our light flashing and gleaming off shiny crystals.   

We saw what looked to be an entrance to another smaller cavern that branched off the side of the main entrance. The helmet lights showed a fissure running sharply down. Down is good on Mars. Down is further from the dust. Go down enough, it will start to get warmer.

The crack down was narrow. I turned sideways and made myself thin - one arm over my head, the other one back. The slit was so narrow that facing sideways with my helmet on I could not look down, so I had to feel my way forward with my feet.

The fissure turned a corner. My whole mind was in my feet as I tried to pick my way. 

Then something gave under me. My feet kicked on emptiness and the harness on my back gave a sharp jerk as the rope between me and Alex pulled taut. For a second I hung suspended over the darkness. Alex’s hands on the rope were the only thing between me and a fall into the abyss. I hung for a moment like a toy on the end of a string, trying not to thrash around. I could feel my heartbeat make the rope tremble. Or maybe I only imagined that. So I said, “Thanks.”

The rope jerked and trembled, jerking me like a fish on the end of a line. I yelled. Alex’s voice came over the radio. When I fell the first yank on the line and dragged him into the rockface, I tore a thin gash in his suit. He had to wedge in a belaying pin to hold my weight so he could patch it.

Our spacesuits are very good - the best - mechanical counter-pressure designs so he wasn’t suddenly without oxygen, but I could tell from the strain in my voice–” Or in his voice, I apologize, “In his voice that he was in pain. Then, too, time was a factor. You lose heat more slowly on Mars than on Earth - there’s almost no air to suck it away from you - but sixty below is still cold enough for frostbite to be a concern. 

And as John Alves always says, once something starts going wrong on Mars, it wants to get worse in a hurry. 

Alex patched his suit. I could hear him swearing in Russian over the helmet radio as I dangled over the darkness.  

As I looked to the cavern wall, my helmet lights played over sheets of rock. I followed the slope of the wall down, down - and then, far below, the light from my helmet lamps seemed to bloom and flower into a glittering oval with darkness at its center. Far below I was seeing the mouth of another cave leading yet further down. And what was around the entrance…

“Frost!” I said suddenly. And now I could see it scattered on the rock around the cave mouth, and even in patches higher up the walls.

Frost is frozen water vapor. Had it sublimated up from somewhere, some hidden glacier? Or could there be liquid water if you went down far enough, to hidden pools where the lingering embers of an ancient volcano were enough to melt the ancient ice?

Then another jerk on my back and I was rising. Alex was pulling me back. I wanted to stay, wanted to take some pictures with my helmet camera: but after a suit breach event proper procedure is to immediately return to camp. 

As I felt my way back into the fissure I couldn’t help wondering if Alex had used up all the patch materials. I felt as if I was creeping back along a passage studded with razor blades.

Then I was through the fissure and back to where Alex was waiting. The patch was obvious, a triangle of new fabric like a bandage high up on his left arm. One edge was stained dark and glittered with frost. I said it was blood and he said it was nothing and I said, on the contrary, it was very important. We had just found the most promising site yet in our years on Mars for the discovery of life and he had contaminated it.

The trip back to base was difficult. A small tear in the suit fabric near the left shoulder should not have caused a malfunction in the heating elements for the hand: but as John Alves says, Mars is always looking for a way to kill you.
Normally on a long trip we save power by leaving the vehicle unpressurized and unheated while the suit does the work. With Alex’s suit needing repair, we had to pressurize and heat the vehicle cabin to keep frostbite from getting at his arm or fingers - which in turn meant we had to watch the power gauge all the way home. If one more thing had gone wrong - well, we’ve survived worse, but it could have been very bad.

And now the whole colony is suspended, like me hanging over that cave, wondering if we might have found a way down into the deep, where life still may lie. And wondering if we have already contaminated it.

Alex means well. He is curious and brave, intelligent and kind. But something in him hungers for things beyond the reach of science. Be patient, I tell him. Be humble and pay attention, and science will show you wonders on wonders - all the miracles you can imagine. 

For this week’s Red Shift, I want to prove it to Shifters, a little. Let me share some things about the real search for life. Not imaginary beings in flying saucers, but the true miracle of life in our universe. Fairytales have their place. It isn’t on Mars. 

And a Post Script: It is difficult to speak of something as rich as life in our solar system while fighting the ten-minute round trip delay from Earth to Mars and back. Therefore, I have asked the ISA Communications team to facilitate a conversation between Emma and her listeners and an ISA astrobiologist. They have agreed - and in the next few days, they tell me, you will have a chance to put your questions to a world-class expert on the topic of life beyond the edge of Earth.”

***

And that concludes Aurore's note for the week. So that gives you guys an idea of what my ISA announcement is!

Number one, I do just have to say that I adore Aurore. I think she is incredible. She's really no-nonsense in a way that I admire. I also like that she is intent on finding answers for Earth on Mars. Honestly, I hadn't really considered that while thinking of how cool it would be to live there. I hadn't really identified that what happened to Mars, whatever that might have been, could be something that could happen on Earth, so it's a pretty cool thought process to go into the adventure and the experiments that she's facilitating right now. Had you guys thought about that? I'm curious if you wondered what answers Mars could provide for us here on Earth.

Also, as Aurore mentioned - super, super excited to let you all know that after Aurore did send this message along, she did reach out to the ISA and got permission to have that astrobiologist speak to all of you! So stay tuned for that this Friday. There will be an Ask Me Anything that includes an astrobiologist for you all to ask questions to. Very , very exciting!

In order for you to send questions to that astrobiologist, what you're going to do is you are going to, well, Stephanie will be posting after the show a link that she will share to let you send those questions in and you'll just have to keep out for that typeform link and then once you have that, you'll be able to send your message to your astrobiologist! I know Jon-Jon, it’s super exciting! It is, indeed, fire, Mimmo. And thank you, Janoots.

Alright, so with that all being said, we're going to head into our sponsor and our weather, which we do every week, and then we are going to hop into the quiz that I constructed alongside Aurore this past week, similar in nature to our quiz last week. And again, it will be a great way for you to gather some XP for Discord, so if you're looking for some extra XP, you're going to want to involve yourself with the quiz. But we're going to hop into our sponsor message first and then our weather and then get right into our fun quiz. With that, let's head over to our sponsor message.

Commercial break

There’s strong - and then there’s Mars strong.

At Red Sands One, the ISA’s construction and prototyping lab - we build Mars strong. Habs made to stay warm at 120 below? Check. Buildgrinders that can chew up the corrosive dirt of Mars and spit back milled concrete blocks? Check. Structures that can take howling winds, endless sand, the torque of a hundred forty Celsius temperature change over a few hours, with a blast of radiation from a solar flare thrown in for laughs? Oh, yeah. Check.

At the ISA’s construction center in Tunisia we call the main campus Hell’s Half Acre; the materials testing labs are a manufacturing torture chamber we like to call the Thunderdome: but the ISA calls us Red Sand One. Here they bring their brightest minds and most advanced technology to put them through sheer unmitigated torment, because that’s the only way we know how to make buildings and machines - and oh yeah, people, too - that can stand up to the Red Planet.

So if you think you have what it takes to develop and test new technologies and mechanics in one of Earth’s most unforgiving environments, seek out your training at ISA’s Red Sand 1. We build Mars strong - but we will build Mars stronger with you. 

And now, our weather report.

Weather report 

At the Mars base this week, we have temperatures ranging from lows at -92 degrees Celsius to highs at -5 degrees Celsius.

Currently, the pressure is sitting around 640 Pascal.

Our wind speeds are somewhat variable, from five to 15 m/s, otherwise known as 20 to 55 km/h. Wind direction is 170-180 degrees east of north, and our atmospheric opacity is largely clearing at about 0.8.

Quiz 

Are you all ready for our quiz? Super exciting!

Every time I look up, there's new gifs in the channel and it makes me laugh, it's fantastic. I like the “Freezy! Freezy!” gif, it's very cold on Mars, for sure. So let's hop into it.

This week, Aurore wanted to make a quiz in response to what Alex made last week, so it's going to be kind of a similar format, but a very, very different vibe. [Emma laughs] She wanted to share some interesting information about the search for life on other planets and what that actually looks like, some interesting history about primitive life on Earth and some generally other interesting facts, so it'll be a great time.

This week, we have two different types of questions - we have multiple choice questions, and we have true or false questions. So just like last week, Stephanie will post what the questions are, what the options are, and you will have to pick using the emotes, or the reactions, that are on Stephanie's post for you to answer. Once you've all answered, I will call the time and then I'll give you the answer itself. Are you all so excited? I know I am. Let's get into this.

So quiz question number one:

Our bodies are made up of specific cellular material that defines what we are - human. But, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for our bodies to host microbiomes for some other microscopic organisms as well. What percentage of cells in the human body, or the human microbiome, are inherently “human”?

Is it A - 98% of cells?

Is it  B - 75%?

Or is it C - 43%?

So again, A - 98% of the percentage of cells in the human body that are inherently human. B - 75%, or C - 43%.

All right, let's see those answers. Let's see, let's see…

It looks like we have C pulling ahead, so I think we call it here. Alright, get your last-minute answers in. The correct answer is… C!

Less than half of your body is made up of inherently human cells, which is crazy. Staggering, even. The remaining 57% of cells that make up the human body include various bacteria, fungi, viruses, and archaea, which are single-cell organisms. Also includes protist, which is another group of eukaryotic microorganisms. All of these exist within the human body, and they… honestly, they act kind of like colonists on the planet Mars do. They have different functions and they honestly help make the human body operate. But only 43% the human body is human cells! Isn't that crazy? I had no idea. I definitely would have gotten this wrong had Aurore not told me the answer, so great job, great job. It looks like our Cs were the winners.

So, we're going to hop right into our quiz question number two. Are you guys ready? Are you excited?

If there was life on Mars, it may have been wiped out due to the shift in the planet’s atmosphere many millions of years ago in some kind of mass extinction. The Earth is no stranger to mass extinction events!

So, true or false? - The worst mass extinction event in the history of Earth was caused by meteors.

What are you thinking? [Emma laughs] “Meteors.” [laughing continues] “I think not.”

Alright, right now it looks like true is in the lead. False is… They're both pretty close.

“Meat eaters.” [Emma laughs] No, not meat eaters.

I guess you could say “asteroids” instead.

So… Martian, I'll come back, I'll read that in a minute, I promise. Let me give you the answer first.

Okay, so, true or false? - The worst mass extinction event in the history of Earth was caused by meteors.

The answer is… False! So if you guessed false, you got it!

About 2.5 billion years ago, a new life form emerged on the planet known as cyanobacteria, which is otherwise known as blue-green algae. These bacteria were photosynthetic, meaning they converted sunlight into energy, which, as a byproduct, produced a gas that had previously never been present at such high levels in the atmosphere. This gas also helped to trigger an ice age.

That incredibly deadly gas that resulted in the worst mass extinction event on the planet Earth? Oxygen.

At the time, the Earth did not have any oxygen– or, have an oxygen-rich atmosphere, meaning that most of the life forms were absolutely unprepared to handle the intense addition of oxygen into the atmosphere, which caused the mass extinction to begin. If that additional addition of oxygen wasn't bad enough, oxygen in the atmosphere combined with methane to create a carbon dioxide. The lack of methane led to less heat being produced in the atmosphere, and, as a result, the Earth entered an ice age.

I had no idea that oxygen had caused that on the planet. I thought that was one of the coolest questions I've ever read. I thought that was so neat! I had no idea!

And I will just circle back, Martian. “de83JWe” is the answer to your captcha. I'm glad we got to clear that up.

"My son's feet-- smelly feet will be the next cause of an extinction," Manja, maybe in 6.5 billion years, we'll be having that conversation, or 2.5 billion years ago. I apologize, we'll be having that conversation.

Alright, let's move on to the next question. Congratulations, to any who got that correct.

This next question is also a true or false question:

Nearly 4.5 billion years ago, Mars was covered in large amounts of water. Water that was deep enough and abundant enough that it formed an ocean in the planet’s northern hemisphere. Now, the planet is known for its dry and dusty surface. Scientists on Earth had to establish what happened to the water on Mars and whether it still exists on the planet. To do this, they tested the Martian atmosphere to discover the level at which the Martian water had dispersed. 

True or false? - Scientists on Earth concluded that anywhere between 30 and 99% of the Martian water still exists on the planet today in some form.

True or false? - Scientists on Earth concluded that anywhere between 30 and 99% of Martian water still exists on the planet today in some form…

30-99. It is a tricky question…

“If you reverse ‘meteor’, you get ‘Eeyore meat’,” oh no! [Emma laughs] Oh, that gif is very sad when put in that context.

Alright, one more time - scientists on Earth concluded that anywhere between 30 and 99% of Martian water still exists on the planet today in some form. True or false?

It looks like true is our winner here. And the answer is, in fact, true! Bear with me here. This is going to get a little scientific as I explain it. Hopefully I do a good job, I had a long conversation with Aurore about it, so let me explain how they tested it.

Planetary scientists on Earth looked to the atmosphere on Mars to establish where the Martian water had gone. Their biggest expectation was that when the atmosphere on Mars went away, the water had simply evaporated up into space. As the water evaporates, it dissociates into its parts. The water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen, so it becomes just free oxygen and hydrogen.

Oxygen is just oxygen. There's only one form of oxygen, if they find oxygen in the atmosphere, it's just oxygen. Easy.

Hydrogen is a little bit more difficult because there's more than one form of hydrogen that can be detected. One of them is the standard hydrogen, and that standard hydrogen just has a single proton at its nucleus. But the other form of hydrogen is called deuterium, which has both a proton and a neutron.

Deuterium, when it connects with oxygen and creates water, creates what's called ‘heavy water’. So it's a little bit heavier and it sticks in the atmosphere. So where hydrogen can basically dissociate, standard hydrogen dissociate, and just head on out into space, deuterium gets caught in the atmosphere, as little atmosphere as there is.

So scientists on Earth anticipated seeing a much larger ratio of deuterium in the planet's atmosphere because hydrogen would just be capable of leaving the atmosphere altogether. However, they instead found that the ratio of deuterium to hydrogen was not skewed in this way to show more deuterium in the atmosphere, meaning that there was less than the expected amount of water that had actually fully evaporated off of the planet. So they concluded that anywhere between 30 and 99% of Martian water would still exist on the planet today in some form.

We also know that, of course, there is presence of water in the polar ice caps on the planet, and there is some water frozen beneath the dry, arid surface of the planet, but there's likely a lot more to be found and, who knows? It's possible that Aurore and Alex just stumbled upon more water, which is pretty fascinating! So I thought that was a really, really cool thing to learn.

And again, all of your gif usage is incredible. Is that a capybara? What is– I love that, Chris. That's fantastic.

Alright, great job, great job. You guys guessed it correctly. Let's move on to quiz question number four.

If we were looking for life on Mars, we would likely be looking for single-cell organisms like archaea. Archaea are prokaryotes - or single celled organisms - that can withstand drastic changes in environment, including intense changes in temperature and pressure. Prokaryotes vary from eukaryotes, which can be either single celled or, more regularly, multicellular organisms like many, many on Earth. So what sets eukaryotes apart from prokaryotes?

Is it A - the presence of a mitochondria, which are organelles that are the powerhouse of the cell?

Is it B - a nucleus containing genetic information?

Is it C - other organelles bound by membranes inside of the cell?

Or is it D - all of the above?

Is it A - the presence of a mitochondria, which are organelles that are the powerhouse of the cell, B - a nucleus containing genetic information, C - other organelles bound by membranes inside the cell, or D - all of the above?

We're getting very, very scientific today.

Alright, I’m seeing… It looks like we have two frontrunners. It's either B - the nucleus containing genetic information, or D - all of the above, so I'll let you guys have just a few more seconds to get your votes in. If you want to have one of those two options, pull ahead. If you want to be the dark horse and go for A…

Alright, it looks like the winning guess is B. So B, which is “a nucleus containing genetic information”. But the actual answer is D - all of the above.

Eukaryotic cells are significantly more complex than their prokaryotic counterparts. Prokaryotes do carry much of the same components as eukaryotes, but do not have as rigidly defined structures, nor are their organelles capable of executing specific functions, so all of those three things that I mentioned - organelles bound by membranes, a nucleus containing genetic information, and a presence of mitochondria - are all specifically things that are seen in eukaryotic cells.

I do want to just add, the mitochondria actually started as a separate prokaryotic species, so the mitochondria was actually its own living form and it found itself engulfed by a bigger eukaryote. Like our astronauts going to Mars, it, too, started as a colonist and then evolved along with its host to become the power plant for almost every plant and animal cell we have on Earth. Some people think of humans as a parasite of the Earth, but not everything we've done– And not everything we've done has been good, but in the long run, let's hope we can evolve like the mitochondria - light up the world through the solar system, and maybe, someday, across the Milky Way.

Alright, are you all ready for our final question? This one's a complicated one as well. I hope you're ready.

Wow, BrickBond, that gif perfect! That's incredible! That would have been so helpful two minutes ago!

Alright, we are on to question number five.

NASA states that life is a self-sustaining chemical system capable of Darwinian evolution. NASA also went on to specify that in order for something to be considered living, it has to exhibit all of seven characteristics. When we think about life on other planets, such as life on Mars, we will have to use this definition and understanding in order to shape the discussion of our findings. So, which of the following is not one of the seven characteristics of life? I want to make that clear - is not the seven characteristics of life?

Is it A - the growth and development of a being into maturity, so a visible growth and development of being into a maturity?

Is it B - highly ordered and structured formation of cells and cellular structures?

Is it C - the ability to achieve homeostasis, or the regulation of an internal environment within the living being’s body?

Or is it D - the ability to form thought and communicate with others of its species?

So, again, which one of these is not one of the seven characteristics of life? Is it A - growth and development of a being into maturity? B - highly ordered and structured formation of cells and cellular structures? Or C - the ability to achieve homeostasis, or the regulation of an internal environment within the living being's body? Or D - the ability to form thought and communicate with others of its species?

Alright, I'll give you guys a second, but it does look like there is a clear frontrunner here.

[Emma laughs] I like the “teacher's pet” gif, Janoots, that's very funny. I also like yours, Rerouted. That's a good one.

I honestly think that communication by flag, Mimmo, is, you know, the future for us, for communication. For sure. That's the one.

Alright, it looks like we have a clear frontrunner here with D being communication. So, the correct answer is D.

While many living beings develop methods to communicate, it is not a characteristic of living things. They do not have to have the ability to form thought and the ability to communicate with others of its species. However, I do want to just tell you guys the actual seven characteristics of life as defined by scientists so that we can, you know, think about it, maybe, when we think about how we talk about life on Mars.

So, number one, - life is highly ordered and structured in terms of its cell structure. This goes at a microscopic level but also in cells forming together to create bodies like the human body.

Two - all life reproduces itself either sexually or asexually.

Three - all life grows and develops to reach maturity.

Four - all life takes in and utilizes energy to carry out the function of its cells.

Five - all living things exhibit homeostasis, which, again, is the ability for them to regulate their internal environment.

Six - all living things respond to their environment by sensing external stimuli and changing their biochemistry or behavior.

And seven - all living things adapt to external pressures and evolve because of them.

And Stephanie has very, very helpfully posted the list of the seven characteristics of life as defined by our scientists in the chat so that we can think about them for later. Thank you so much Stephanie!

With that being said, congratulations to everyone who guessed the correct answers and thank you all for involving yourself in this week's quiz! I am so grateful that you all have been playing with us. For anybody who didn't already have the Shifter role, you'll be having that added to your account after this, and to anyone who participated in our quiz today, you'll also be getting that extra 500 XP added to the Discord, which is very exciting, so thank you, Stephanie. I appreciate your help in making that possible! Very, very exciting stuff!

With that being said, we are going to head out and have– Or I guess I'm going to head out. We're going to end the show here. I hope you all have had a great week. I hope you all have enjoyed the game and I can't wait to bring you more next week on our next Red Shift, so thank you all so very much!

I hope you all have a great time. Martian, stay tuned. I promise as soon as I can share information with you, I will share information. I'm just glad Martian, that this week I can do the captcha it for you, so…

Alright, with that being said, thank you all so much. Thank you all for hanging out. It's nice seeing new names in the chat, and I will see you all along a little bit later!

Have a great week everyone! Bye!

Other Episodes

Meet the Astronauts (Part 2)
Episode
16

Meet the Astronauts (Part 2)

With six of the twelve Mars Base astronauts introduced last week, Emma jumps right into telling the Shifters about the remaining crew members – their history with the ISA, their personal lives, passions, and hobbies. She also gives the Red Shift listeners a chance to learn a little bit more about each other, with Two Truths and a Lie - Shifter Edition! Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Meet the Astronaut (Part 1)
Episode
15

Meet the Astronaut (Part 1)

In this very special episode, the Shifters get to know the first half of the current crew of the Mars base and play a game of Two Truths and a Lie with them, learning about everything from their favorite pastimes, to stories from their time at the ISA training facilities, to the art of surfing the sand dunes of the Red Planet. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

The Drill
Episode
14

The Drill

Alarms and sirens shock the Mars base in the middle of the night, warning of a potentially catastrophic Coronal Matter Ejection event. As the crew works frantically for thirty-two sleepless hours to brace for impact, one person knows it’s only a drill - Mission Commander Mithi Mabaya. Now, she’s reaching out to the Shifters with her side of the story. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

The Magpie
Episode
13

The Magpie

What can the Martian fire opal be used for? Scientist and science fiction enthusiast Emi Serizawa asks her fellow astronauts for their ideas and theories, some more serious than others. The Shifters join in, asked by Emi to come up with ways to incorporate earthly everyday objects into Mars colony life. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Fire Opal
Episode
12

Fire Opal

Last week, Maksym’s mistake put Korey’s life in serious danger. Now, the scientist contacts Emma to talk about the discovery - a rare Mars opal - that caused him to lose focus on the task. At the same time, he challenges Korey to make a scientifically-focused game for the Shifters. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Two Man Job
Episode
11

Two Man Job

Although Mars Base has now recovered from their C. difficile infection, last week left things sour between two of the twelve - Korey and Maksym. With Ida still indisposed after her close encounter with death, Mission 3 Engineer Korey Leonard is sent out on a fuel tank maintenance mission and challenges his teammate to create a game for the Shifters to repay him for a near-fatal mistake. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Too Many Side Quests!
Episode
10

Too Many Side Quests!

Managing a Mars Base is difficult on the best of days. With a C. difficile outbreak knocking out almost the entirety of the ISA crew, botanist Hanzou Mori has to single-handedly make sure operations are running smoothly. His journal chronicles a frantic week with the weight of the Red Planet on his shoulders. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Back From The Dead
Episode
9

Back From The Dead

Ida is recovering back at the Mars Base, but there may be more trouble brewing for the astronauts yet… Instead of a letter, ISA Doctor Tetyana Zelenko sent in a record of Ida’s recovery, including some troubling symptoms for her and the rest of the crew. Along with the notes, Emma also received a game created by Tetyana and John Alves themselves to show the Shifters just how precarious living on the Red Planet can be. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Rover 1
Episode
8

Rover 1

With this week’s astronaut letter from Mission Three Engineer Ida Serafin, the mystery of the broken glass has, at last, concluded. To wind down following the revelations, Emma invites Shifters to a party game based on ISA’s brand-new resource-scouting prototype. The broadcast ends suddenly as they all receive news of a life-threatening emergency on Mars. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

What We Bring to Mars
Episode
7

What We Bring to Mars

As Emma and the Shifters decide what they would take with them to the Mars base, Mission Three doctor Bertram Ruf updates us on Alex’s health after his suit puncture, and highlights the difficulties of practicing medicine on the Red Planet. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Is There Life on Mars?
Episode
6

Is There Life on Mars?

No-nonsense Mission Two Scientist Aurore Duval reaches out to Emma to counter Alex’s claims of extraterrestrial intelligence. Her letter takes Shifters on a dangerous mission beneath the surface of Mars as they explore a lava tube cave in the search of life on the Red Planet. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Xenoscope
Episode
5

Xenoscope

As the dust storm on Mars finally blew itself out, Emma was able to chat with one of the “First Four” Mars astronauts - Alexandr Titov. Together, they created an interactive quiz for the Shifters, all about the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, participate in interactive exercises like this one, and maybe even interact with some of the astronauts currently on Mars! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Medical Training Simulations
Episode
4

Medical Training Simulations

Due to the ongoing dust storm, transmissions from Mars to Earth are jammed. Instead of reading out a Mars Diary, Emma invites the audience to try their hand at a couple of official ISA Medical Simulations and diagnose some of the common health concerns in a space colony. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions, and participate in interactive exercises like this one! All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

Storm Coming
Episode
3

Storm Coming

There is a storm approaching the ISA Mars base, and tensions between the 12 astronauts are high. Mission Two engineer John Alves takes a step back to talk about proofing rovers against the sands of Mars and shed some light on the mystery of the broken glass. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions… and read some cryptic internal ISA messages…?All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

"Broken Glass"
Episode
2

"Broken Glass"

Mission Three botanist Patricia Holzer describes the events of a disturbing week in which the vital trust between the 12 ISA astronauts on Mars is damaged by an act of vandalism. Now an official ISA podcast. The ISA is built by people like you! Tune in live every Tuesday 4:00 PM UTC to chat with Emma, ask her questions… and read some cryptic internal ISA messages…? All through our official transmission channel: https://discord.com/invite/colonizemars

"My other job is on mars"
Episode
1

"My other job is on mars"

Emma Miller takes a break from her bar gig to bring you updates from the Interplanetary Space Alliance colony on Mars. Now an official ISA podcast!