A Scientific and Christian View of Possible Life in Outer Space c

Part 1c Our Solar System (For Information Beyond Our Solar System See Link for Part 2)

Background of Personal Perspective on Extraterrestrial Life

As I have personally been interested in science especially astronomy and space exploration since I learned how to read at about age 5 and long before I became a true or born again Christian I can say with some basis that I have knowledge of the scientific side of issue of extraterrestrial life (intelligent or otherwise). My interest in astronomy and space exploration especially the human variety was solidified when I eye-witnessed the Apollo 11 lunar landings in July 1969 at a rented cottage in central Ontario when I was 9 years old. The laser reflector left by those astronauts on the moon to determine the Earth-Moon distance precisely probably still works and could probably be used to disprove people who believe the Apollo landings were a hoax if NASA wanted to use this means. I continue to be intensely interested in this subject and am a member of The Planetary Society - the largest grassroots pro-space exploration private organization in the world. I am also quite pleased with the recent and ongoing discoveries of unmanned space probes especially at Mars and to a lesser extent with the current unmanned Cassini space probe at Saturn and its moons especially with the Huygens lander to its large moon Titan that has a substantial atmoshpere with much methane and other hydrocarbons but bemoan the continued lack of appreciable manned space exploration. Although I have not taken formal courses in Biology or Life Sciences I have taken courses in Chemistry including one in Organic Chemistry and have read many articles on Biology in its different areas both from an evolutionary perspective and more recently also from a creationist perspective so I have some understanding of the biology area to comment on the issue of possible extraterrestrial life. I have also been a "born again" Christian for more than 20 years and have read the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation at least 15 times as well as done much Bible study including the terms heaven or heavens and heard many Bible messages and discussed Bible or Christian things many times with other people Christian or otherwise including the idea of extraterrestrial life. I write this article as from someone who has a deep interest, enthusiasm and support for both astronomy, space exploration, and desire to find at least bacteria or equivalent life in the present universe and as a Bible believing Christian that sees these two perspectives as complementary and not incompatible. I also am writing this article feeling that this is a topic of widespread interest to people of many backgrounds although from many different perspectives.

Possible Mention of Limited Life in Space Regarding Our Solar System in Genesis 2

In Genesis 2:1 there is the expression thus the heavens and the earth were finished and the host of them. Although in Genesis 1 only the sun, the moon and the stars are mentioned specifically of things God made in the astronomical heavens, the host of the heavens would include also other objects such as asteroids, planets, comets, planetary rings etc. Although I can't be sure and it is true that no life, even the counterpart of Earthly microbial life, has been found beyond Earth in space so far it is quite possible that such microbial life could be found and exist and have existed in the past in our solar system such as on Mars before on the surface and now below the surface for which the recent recurring slope linnae (RSLs) and confirmation of recent methane emissions could be indications. There could be also current microbes on some other locations in the solar system in sub-surface water oceans in places like Jupiter's moon Europa or Saturn's moon Enceladus. There could have been larger scale life before on Mars when it had a denser atmosphere and warmer temperatures and surface liquid water and rain such as our counterparts of plants and animals and there could be large scale life such as plants or animals in the subsurface oceans of Europa and Enceladus such as fish or other marine life. I do not think there is intelligent extraterrestrial mortal life as we might have heard about it before from Search for Extraterrestrial Life (SETI) programs and the Bible would probably have been more definite to tell us about them to at least pray for their salvation if they had fallen into sin and needed to be saved and there is the problem of how they could be saved such as whether Jesus' death on the cross on Earth would count for their salvation or whether He would have to incarnate as one of them and die on their planet for the sins or such as hypothetical alien race. I believe bacteria and plants don't have either souls or spirits, animals including probably any beyond earth have souls but not spirits and only humans have spirits which allow us to have a relationship with God and be in His image as well as souls. I think the host of the heavens as well as the earth could include extraterrestrial life such as microbes in space or the heavens or large scale life such as plants or animals but not humanoid intelligent life but the host of heaven could be just referring to inanimate objects in space such as the sun, moon, planets, stars, asteroids, comets etc. and that whatever is out there was created by God but didn't evolve. We will just have to see. The scripture reference from Genesis 2 about the host of the heavens and the earth in God's creation that could include some non-spiritual or not intelligent life like microbes, plants or animals but might not is as follows:

Scripture Reference from Genesis 2 of the Host of the Heavens and Earth Possibly Mentioning Limited Life in Space Including Our Solar System

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. These are the generations of the heavens, and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, Genesis 2:1-4

June 2018 NASA Confirmation of Seasonal Pattern of Methane Abundance in Martian Atmosphere and Discovery of Additional Organic Chemicals Through Curiousity Rover and Implications

There were two related major announcements of scientific discoveries by the American space agency NASA in early June 2018. These were both by the Curiosity rover in Gale Crater near the equator of Mars were the rover has been since it landed in 2012. One discovery was that the ongoing measurements of the the composition of the atmosphere of Mars shows a clear seasonal pattern of the abundance of the most basic organic molecule methane or natural gas in the Martian atmosphere. The abundance of methane changed by about a factor of 3 from approximately 0.2 parts per billion (ppb) in the Martian winter to about 0.6 ppb in the Martian summer. This would be too large an effect just to be caused by the different strenght of the sunlight on the Martian surface and any organic matter left there which I heard would only have a difference of about 20% between seasons. The other two alternate sources of the methane and the variation of it would be from under the surface. This could be geologic with a process called serpentization in which liquid water comes across and interacts with some rock particularly the mineral olivine that gives off methane in the process. The other main possibility is that these methane emissions and their variation are due to the effect of different amounts of heat from the sun of possible subsurface microbes that emit methane. In either of these processes the methane would then seep up through the ground into the atmosphere of Mars, at first just above the surface where Curiosity detected the methane. Methane is a very reactive gas and with the radiation that Mars receives from the sun and elsewhere from space any previous methane in its atmosphere would be broken up within a couple hundred years to a level much lower than measured by Curiosity. These seasonal patterns of methane abundance followed a clear sine wave pattern over a couple Martian years or several Earth years. (A Martian year is almost 700 earth days.) I am not sure if the SAM instrument on the Curiosty rover has the capability but one way in which scientists could determine if this methane is likely produced biologically or not is to check if it contains mostly the Carbon isotope Carbon 12. Carbon 12 has six neutrons as well as six protons in its nucleus compared to Carbon 13 that has seven neutrons or a fairly even mix of these two isotopes. (Neither of these isotopes of carbon are radioactive and both are fairly common.) Biological systems find Carbon 12 is less strain and more efficient in the biological reactions because it is a little lighter than Carbon 13 and it is used in higher proportion in living things on Earth in relation to Carbon 13 than the general proportion of the two in the air or surface of Earth so finding more of Carbon 12 in methane on Mars could indicate a more likely biological such as microbial source of the methane measured there.

The other major discovery announced by NASA with its Curiosity Rover in June 2018 was the discovery of some more organic chemicals. These organic chemicals included the small sulfur containing ring molecule thiophene and some benzene-like and propane-like organic chemicals. These could all remnants of much larger organic material called Kerigens that are large organic complex material sometimes seen in astronomical bodies such as comets. The reason the detected organics are thought to be part of these larger kerigen organic material is because the soil samples in the Curiosity Rover SAM instrument, where they were discovered, is heated to about 500 degrees Centigrade or about 900 degrees Fahrenheit which would break up most organic material in the soil samples into smaller organic molecules due to the likely presence of the common perchlorate salts in the soil sample. These perchlorates are very reactive at high temperatures including having a strong ability to destroy or break up complex organic molecules or material. This and many other samples taken for analysis in the SAM instrument. This material in which the SAM instrument on Curiosity found the organics was taken from some rock in the Pahrump Hills area of Gale Crater with its drill about 5 centimetres or 2 inches into the rock. This would be much more protected from space radiation that can break up organic material than material that is right on the top of the surface of Mars. (This drill had stopped working for about a year but fortunately NASA and the scientists and engineers working on the Curiosity Mission were able to restore use of the Curiosity Drill using a near identical test version of Curiosity on Earth around the beginning of June. This new drilling method uses a different drilling method but has now been tested and has worked and hopefully will continue to work well on a routine basis.) That organics were found so close to the surface of Mars gives more confidence to scientists with NASA and elsehere that it won't be too hard to find other samples of organic material this far or farther from the top of the surface of Mars as they would likely to be just as well preserved from radiation or other damage.

What this all means from my perspective as a bible believing but positive to science perspective is that it now seems much more likely, although it hasn't yet quite been proven, that Mars in its ancient past and perhaps from the methane results could still currently have at least some microbial life below its surface. These results certainly give more evidence of organic chemicals on Mars but organic chemicals can be produced by abiotic (not biological such as geological) processes as well as biological such as microbial in this case methane exhaling microbes processes. There are some verses throughout the Bible (about ten or a dozen times in both the Old and New Testament) saying about God's creation the heavens and the earth and the things in them (or the host of them) and this could but doesn't require that there could be living as well as rock or other inanimate things in the astronomical heavens. Even if it is proven on Mars or on some other places in space (the second heavens) such as Jupiter's moon Europa, Saturn's moon Enceladus or on some potentially habitable planet of another star this could just as well be explained by God creating it as it evolved spontaneously. Even if microbes or similiar primitive life were to be found on Mars or elsewhere in space this would also not complicate the biblical Christian view of physical life in the universe as microbial life would not have a spirit a humans (or God, angels or demons do) or have a soul as animals on Earth do (as do humans). I believe that if microbes are discovered on Mars or elsewhere in space that would show to a greater extent the variety and otherwise power and wisdom of God in His creation in the astronomical heavens. On Mars though, it would be good to take some closer inspection of any microbes that are found there to make sure it is not the same as microbes on Earth that could have been brought to Mars or even made their way underground from the Curiosity rover when it was on Earth or other Earth contamination on other rovers or landers that reached the surface of Mars.

September 2015 Confirmation That Recurring Slope Linnae (RSLs) Recurring Long Streaks on Cliffs on Mars are Caused by (Temporary) Flow of Liquid Water

At the end of September 2015 the American space agency NASA had a press conference in which they announced a major finding from the HiRise cameras on the Mars Reconaissance Orbiter. This was from looking at the Recurring Slope Linnae (RSLs) that are temporary streaks down canyon or crater walls that have been observed since 2011. These RSLs have been found to have seasonal patterns and make their marks on the slopes facing the sun especially around Martian summer when the temperatures can get at or above or at least the melting point of water. This had already led to suspicion that they could be caused by melting water from Martian water ice that is just below much of Mars' surface. However as has been known since 2008 when they were discovered by NASA's Phoenix lander in the more arctic area of Mars there are chemcials called perchlorates over much of the Martian surface. These are salts including chlorine and oxygen and among other things they substantially reduce the temperatures at which water remains liquid on Mars much as some other salts do on Earth such as when we put salt on ice or snow on roads or sidewalks to melt them in colder areas of Earth in the winter. Anyway this helps explain why some of these streaks were forming on Mars even when the temperatures there would be somewhat below the freezing point of pure water or 0 degrees celcius. The perchlorates can reduce the freezing point of the salty water to -40 celcius or colder. The new study published in the journal Nature Geoscience and announced by NASA Planetary Science people including Jim Green NASA Planetary Science Director, John Grunsfeld NASA associate administrator for science missions and Alfred McEwen a professor at the University of Arizona who is the main researcher for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRise) of the Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter with Lujendra Ojha a prospective PhD person in planetary Science at Georgia Institute of Technology as the main people involved in the research and discovery. These RSLs are usually about 5 metres across and around 100 metres long. They usually make dark streaks on the slopes in many areas of Mars. What the team found, especially Mr. Ojha, was that from the spectra of the light from the RSL areas there was a strong signal of perchlorate with water attached to them. These perchlorates were especially Sodium perchlorate, Magesium perchlorate and Magnesium chlorate. It was clear from some of the graphs in the presentation that the dips in the spectra observed from these RSL were consistant with dips in spectra from Earth laboratories with perclorates with water attached. These spectra were not observed anywhere as strongly from other areas of Mars including adjacent areas of slopes where the RSLs were that was outside the actual RSL areas. These RSLs might be the flow not of fully independent liquid water but more of soil wet by liquid water and made more unstable on the steep slope walls. While it has been thought for some time that water was responsible for the production of the RSLs but there were other competing theories such as from sublimation (turning from solid to gas) of carbon dioxide that would bring stones or soil down with it or just rock slides by itself the clear spectras found for water compounds only in the RSLs and the seasonal nature of the RSLs corresponding with the melting point of water heavily favour or virtually clinches that the RSLs are formed by temporary flows of very salty (briny) water. This water would be far saltier than any in the Earth's oceans. As has been observed by others coming to this conclusion is a good example over several years of the scientific process in action. Although this research team seems to prefer the idea that this water is drawn in from the atmosphere through the perclorates on the slopes to bring the water in chemical combination with the perclorate salts and then to together flow down the slopes there is not yet sufficient proof that there is enough water vapor in the Martian atmosphere to realize this. An alternate source for the water is from liquid water aquifers near the top of these slopes and perhaps just below the surface on these slopes where the RSLs form.

Implications of NASA Discovery of Liquid Water Causing RSLs in Many Areas of Mars in September 2015

Implications of this NASA discovery of liquid water forming RSLs on Mars are probably greater if they are caused by subsurface aquifers of possibly pure liquid water than if they are formed by taking water out of the Martian atmosphere. One reason for this is that there is a much thinner atmosphere and weaker magnetic field on Mars than on Earth which means the surface of Mars and anything on it is subjected to much more radiation from the sun or from elsewhere in the cosmos than on the surface of Earth. This means that it would still be very difficult for even most Earthly bacteria to survive in these RSL areas even though there is some water or moisture. Also the perchlorate salts when combined with this water would make the water far too salty or briny for most earthly bacteria and perhaps hypothetical Martian bacteria to live off. However if a main contributor of these RSLs are subsurface aquifers near the top of the RSL slopes there could be many areas of Mars with much purer water that would be much more supportive of life including being more protected from space radiation. These would be good areas in the future to investigate for signs of Martian microbial or even more complex life like moss or lichens if it can be determined that water aquifers are contributing most of the water for the RSLs. Also, although there isn't too much water at any one of these RSLs' there are many of them on a regular basis in many parts of Mars and not all of Mars has been investigated yet for them and they could make it easier to supply water or oxygen to potential astronauts on Mars and make it more practical for human visits or even human bases on Mars. However there is also one increased concern from some quarters from this discovery. That is people involved in Planetary Protection that is the policy to protect or minimize the transfer of bacterial or other Earth life to Mars or vice versa aboard robot landers or rovers or especially with people would be much more difficult as the presence of even temporary liquid water that is salty would provide any Earth bacteria a better chance to get established on Mars and perhaps wipe out any indigenous Martian life or confuse scientists with what they might think would be Martian life. This would definitely be a bad thing but there also needs to come a point if NASA or perhaps other space agencies are careful for a long enough time and able to investigate these RSL or other promising sites for life on Mars carefully and long enough as well possible nearby water aquifers and still don't find any Martian even bacterial life to conclude that even in more habitable parts of Mars there isn't indigenous Martian life and Mars is still a dead planet and be more lenient towards allowing human explorers on its surface. Whether life either indigenous or from Earth is found on Mars in these RSL or other locations it will still tell us much more about life in other parts of the universe and how common it might be and if different than EArth indigenous Martian life is found what it might be like. Most scientists still think subsurface life including in aquifers is a much better and more likely location for life on Mars but it isn't as accessible. From my biblical Christian viewpoint I think God through the Lord Jesus Christ could make life even indigenous to Mars on Mars either like Earth life or quite different and it could survive if it is just microbes or something primitive like that. I also believe there could be more large scale planets and animals on some more habitable planets in the universe but I don't think there is mortal intelligent life outside of Earth in the universe because they would likely also have spirits and be eternal like human beings and have free will and a desire to worship someone or something and if they fell into sin or rebellion against the Creator God they would have to be saved or restored to God like people on Earth do through God sending His Son Jesus Christ to this Earth in the form of a man to die for and pay for our sins and rise again so people that trust in Jesus can have eternal life with God. There would be complication whether Jesus would have to go to their planets and become one of their race and die for their sins and rise again or whether His perfect life and death and resurrection on Earth could count to pay for their sins on their planet too. Bacteria and plants would not need someone to die for them as they have neither souls or spirits and animals have souls such as shown by their feelings and probably instinct but they do not have spirits and therefore are not eternal and don't have to be saved. So while this discovery of liquid water on Mars could increase the likelihood of life beyond Earth I think this would just show the greater measure of God's power and wisdom and there would not be a complication about God's plan of salvation or redemption as any life on Mars would likely only be microbes or at most primitive plants and these don't have to be redeemed to God from sin and separation from God.

August 2016 Mars Curiosity Rover Researchers Determine High Levels of Manganese Oxide Suggesting High Levels of Oxygen in Early Martian Atmosphere

In an article on http://eos.org in August 2016 from the journal Geophysical Letters, the writer Sarah Stanley mentions that the finding by the Mars Curiosity rover of excess Manganese Oxide on Mars likely shows Mars had more free oxygen in its ancient atmosphere than now. Free oxygen means oxygen as atomic oxygen O or molecular oxygen O2 and not oxygen that is bound with atoms of other elements such as with carbon in carbon dioxide CO2 that is a main component of the Martian atmosphere now. The author of the article reports that at least since 2014 there have been both laser and drill measurements of rocks or soil in Mars' Gale Crater by the Curiosity rover that show excess amounts of Manganese Oxide in sandstone samples there. At least the drilled samples of Manganese Oxide were into so-called "fracture fills" in otherwise flat areas. These fracture fill features are said to require high levels of liquid water and oxidizing conditions to form. The writer of the article says the indication of these oxidizing conditions gives clear evidence of free oxygen on Mars in its ancient past. These Manganese Oxide discoveries indicate there was free water on the surface of Mars in its ancient past in what is now this area of Gale Crater. This flowing water on Mars' surface is said to have put the Manganese Oxide in the fractures in this sandstone. The indicated presence of more free oxygen and flowing surface water indicates that Mars was more Earthlike and habitable in ancient times. The article states the high levels of free oxygen on Earth has allowed similiar Manganese Oxide features to form in similiar ways. In the spring of 2014 Curiosity scientists used the Mars Curiosity ChemCam laser to vaporize some Mars surface material and determine its components. They found the manganese levels 3 fold more than expected in a couple percent of places they sampled. Later the Curiosity research team found a further location on Mars in the Kimberley area of Gale Crater of excess area of Manganese. These deposits were also in sandstone in parts that suggest they were deposited by liquid water. Analysis of these Manganese samples suggest they were also Manganese oxides formed by free oxygen (and the flow of liquid water). Although the article doesn't directly say it, to me this gives further evidence that Mars was once habitable at least for microbes and possibly more in the ancient past but it seems that there has not yet been the discovery directly even of these past microbes but their remains would be difficult to preserve. As a bible believing Christian I wouldn't have a problem with the discovery of microbes even current ones on Mars or some other astronomical body or even of plants or animals but it would become quite a bit more difficult if intelligent, mortal life was ever found on another celestial body. This is mostly because I believe that animals or something like them that might exist on other worlds have souls but not spirits while plants and bacteria have neither souls or spirits but humans and likely other intelligent life on other worlds if it exists has both a soul and a spirit. I believe it is the possession of a spiritual component that enables humans have free will and worship our Creator (or in the bad sense anyone or anything else) and this gives us more accountability to God and the part of us that ensures we exist forever. This spiritual aspect of humans is also the part of human beings that I believe necessitated the sending by God of His only begotton Son Jesus Christ from heaven to earth to pay for our sins by His death on the cross and resurrection and restore anyone who believes in our hearts in Him as our personal Lord and Saviour to a relationship with God the Father. If there was other intelligent life on other planets and they disobeyed God they would have to be restored to Him either by Jesus becoming incarnate and dying for their sins and rising from the dead on their planets as one of them or else more likely His incarnation, death on the cross for sins and rising from the dead somehow counting for their sins and brought to their attention which is still unlikely and the Bible doesn't definitely say this happened, it would be more complicated and so far we haven't found definite evidence of other alien races. I think the UFOs and related aliens many observe or even meet that can't be accounted for by natural or man-made objects or psychological effects are mostly by demons or fallen angels in disguise as their messages to people they contact are almost always contrary to the true gospel and way of salvation of God through His Son Jesus Christ in His word the Holy Bible for this present Church Age especially the New Testament.

April 2015 NASA Curiosity Rover Finds Perchlorate in Gale Crater Implying Transient Liquid Water Now on Mars and Implications

In April 2015 NASA announced that its Curiosity rover had found perchlorates in the soil in Gale Crater close to the rover. Such perchlorates with thin layers of water frost that fall there most likely result in temporaray liquid water before it evaporates but this water would be very salty or briny that would be hostile to life. However it would seep down into the ground and there it would likely lose some of its salt and be more conducive to microbial life and below the surface there would be more shielding from radiation which would also make a better environment for any possible current Martian microbes. Since perchlorates have been found by Curiosity in Gale crater and before by the Phoenix lander closer to the northern polar areas of Mars, perchlorates are probably widespread on Mars at least on the surface. Perchlorates like other salts cause water to have a much lower melting point that pure water. Perchlorate water could freeze at around -50 degrees celcius which is well within temperatures experienced on much of Mars. Scientists have found what are called recurring slope linnae (RSL) which are regular (annual) lines or deposited material on sunward slopes of crater or canyon walls including the huge VAlles Marineris. If perchlorates are widespread on the surface of Mars, these RSLs could be material that more easily and at lower temperature melts from the light of the sun melting Martian ice near the surface with the assistance of reaction from perchlorates at or near the surface that combines with the ice exposed to the sunlight. This temporary liquid water would still be salty or briny but I think not as concentrated as that very small amounts implied on the surface of GAle crater by Curiosity. The existence and regularity of these RSLs could also mean there is a flow of liquid water just below the surface of Mars in many locations that would be less salty and perhaps more conducive to at least microbial life. It would be interesting to see if there is an elevated level of methane near any of these RSLs which could be evidence of currently existing microbes that breathe out methane just below the surface of Mars that are being nourished by the water that is temporily liquid the deposits of which are shed down the slopes of craters or canyons on Mars but which are likely liquid at some distance below the surface. According to the models of some planetary scientists these water flows that make the RSLs could flow in the Martian night and then evaporate in the Martian daytime which could be also why they haven't really be caught in the act yet. If there are indeed microbes being nourished by these temporary water flows at least below the surface it would be interesting if the carbon isotope of methane in any future elevated periods as measured in the Martian atmosphere near GAle crater by Curiosity would be at a high enough level to determine the isotope ratio of the carbon in the methane and whether the methane is from microbes and biotic source of from an abiotic source such as the process of serpentinazation in which there is subsurface flows of liquid water in contact with some rocks I think especially the mineral olivine. Determining the carbon ratio of the methane in the air that is above background level could also help determine if any microbes causing the methane emissions are contamination from Earth or native to Mars. Of course liquid water on or just under the surface of Mars even salty water might be helpful to any future astronauts from Earth as well.

September 2015 NASA Announces Confirmation of Global Liquid Water Ocean Under Surface of Enceladus Moon of Saturn

In mid-September 2015 NASA through the Jet Propulsion Center (JPL) announced that they had confirmed there is a global ocean of liquid water under the surface of Enceladus a moon of Saturn. Enceladus is about 500 kilometers across and on average about 238,000 kilometers from (the center) of Saturn. One of the greatest discoveries of the Cassini mission that is nearing the end of its mission around Saturn and its missions was the finding of jets of water ice from Encedadus in 2006. Among the ice pellets there was also water vapor, some simple organic molecules and salt. The salt was a major factor in initially concluding there was an ocean of water beneath the surface of Enceladus. It is thought that what causes the layer of liquid water below its surface are the continual tides on Enceladus from Saturn and some of the other major moons of Saturn at least some of which are in more distant orbits around Saturn. Also Enceladus' orbit around Saturn is somewhat elliptical or oval and this contributes to tidal stresses on Enceladus (and the maintaining of a liquid layer of water beneath its surface). These jets of ice particles etc. from Enceladus are from the area of the south pole of Enceladus and have been observed on a continuing basis since the Cassini spacecraft first spotted them in 2006. This spacecraft first went into orbit around Saturn and its moons in 2004 and was launched from Earth in 1997. The European Space Agency (ESA) and the Italian Space Agency are also involved in the Cassini mission.

What led to the global extent of the ocean under Enceladus was the monitoring of its wobble that is due to the fact it is not perfectly spherical and that its orbit is not completely circular. If Enceladus was frozen right through from its surface there would not be nearly as much wobble as was observed because of the drag from the "dead weight" of its core. This was determined by carefully taking many years of pictures of Enceladus by Cassini and many years of statistcal and computer analysis and modelling. The most likely current confirmation that Enceladus has a global subsurface ocean means it is more likely it could have some life at least microbes with the abundance of liquid water and perhaps the inclusion of some organics in the jets from this ocean. There would have to be energy for any life there not from the sun which would be hidden from view by the overlaying ice but by geological sources such as volcanoes at the bottom of this ocean or that could perhaps go above the water level in isolated locations. The water would likely be very cold just above the freezing point of water so it would be unlikely there is more advanced life than microbes if even they are confirmed. NASA and other scientists are now very interested in further investigating Enceladus for signs of life, at least microbes, from this subsurface ocean with an additional mission to Europa. One of the NASA Discovery missions under consideration would be such a mission but it is under competition with many other missions to other parts of the solar system to be chosen for funding and further development. This selection should be soon. The Cassini mission has a couple more passes through the water jets of Enceladus before its mission ends with a designed flight into Saturn in 2017. If this other mission to Enceladus is chosen from the Discovery missions it will have a much more sensitive and discrinating ability to determine which chemicals are in the jets of water and other substances from the subsurface ocean of Enceladus. Previously a similiar sursurface ocean was found on the larger moon Europa of Jupiter but some interest has decreased of finding indications of life in its jets from its sub-surface ocean over recent years because no more jets have been seen there since 2012.

As a Bible believing Christian I believe while there might not be any material life in this universe beyond Earth, there could be at least microbes or even plants or animals but intelligent mortal life might not be likely. My belief this way is partly because so far we have not found definite evidence of extraterrestrial intelligent life such as from the long running SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) radio and some optical search programs but more so because on a biblical basis any intelligent (ET) life would most likely also have spirits as human beings do and would be alright if they never sinned but if they did they would need a saviour as we do and that God has provided in the Lord Jesus Christ who died for the sins of all people on Earth potentially and actually for everyone that admits he or she is a sinner according to the Bible and trusts in the Lord Jesus as one's personal Lord and Saviour. Even if Jesus' blood could apply to intelligent beings of hypothetical ET races on other planets of other stars or places we might have missed in our solar system which is probably unlikely based on some Bible verses there would be the problem of how they would hear of the good news of Jesus death for their sins on Earth or the other problem if Jesus had to go to their planets and become one of them to die for their sins especially when there is no clear reference to these things in the Bible. If Jesus had done this God would probably want people especially Christians on earth so we could at least pray for their salavtion. Anyway it is much more possible that there could be extraterrestrial more primitive life including in some parts of our solar system especially where there is liquid water such as in the subsurface ocean of Enceladus, Europa or some other places in the solar system or just below the surface of Mars where there have been found temporary flows of salty water from just below the surface called Recurring Slope Linnae (RSLs) in some places on Mars. However, so far no extraterrestrial life even microbes has been found anywhere.

December 2014 NASA Announces that Curiousity Rover Has Detected Organic Chemicals and Possibly Life (Microbes) on Mars

In December 2014 NASA announced that the Curiosity Rover had found clear evidence of organic chemicals on Mars (in Gale Crater) where the rover has been operating. At first NASA said they found no evidence of organic chemicals in this part of Mars below 1 part per billion. But on closer examination by enriching the air that was examined by removing much of the carbon dioxide it was found that there is a background methane level of about 0.7 parts per billion. For two months from the end of 2013 to the beginning of 2014 an increased level of methane was detected by four measurements that averaged about 7 parts per billion or about 10 times the background level. There was also a shorter increase of about 5 parts per billion before that. After the longer elevated abundance period the readings for methane went back to the background level of about 0.7 parts per billion. This methane could be produced by a geological process called serpentinization in which liquid water passes over a certain kind of rock or it could be produced by the action of ultraviolet rays from the sun or elsewhere in space on possible organics on the surface of Mars. This methane could also be produced by methyl chlathrates that can hold methane or other chemicals that might come from further below the surface and slowly release them to the Martian air. The methane that passes through the chlathrates could before that be produced by either Martian microbes or the serpentinization process. What is needed now is to be better prepared or any possible additional increased emission of methane which might allow scientists to determine the isotopes of carbon, whether it is carbon 12 or 13, to better determine if it is from life biotic or non-life abiotic. Life would produce methane with much more carbon 12. At the press conference in December it was also announced by NASA scientists that they had found evidence of other more complex organics including a benzene related compound chloro benzene at a site called Cumberland with much clay or mudstone. It was found before that both the former clays and indication of past neutral pH water would have made this location a particularly good site for at least microbial life. That the compound found in the Curiousity SAM instrument had chlorine is probably an indication as with some other compounds seen there that the heating of the material made it react with perchlorates that are in the soil to combine with organic chemicals there. NASA says it will try to take many more samples now and examine them so we will have to see if there are any more samples that produce an elevated levels of organics that could be examined to determine the carbon isotopes to better say if these organics are produced from life or geology. From a biblical Christian viewpoint I personally don't have any problem even if microbial life is confirmed even if it is native to Mars and different than Earth life but it would be more complicated if scientists found intelligent mortal extraterrestrial life but if such life was on Mars I think we would have found it already. Of course from a Christians viewpoint intelligent mortal extraterrestrial life could sin and might need to be forgiven and restored to God but we think microbes and plants and animals don't have spirits and don't need to be saved although animals have souls.

For more information, comments, advice or questions contact Doug at dougforheavens33@gmail.com Contact Spirit and Truth Ministries

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