TREES ON MARS

TREES ON MARS
Copyrights HTV-West 2003
Produced and written by David Monaghan
Directed by Andrew Zikking
Executive Producer: James Garrett

PART FOUR



Music - Exploration - the Kaminsky Brothers.

Rocket take-off and into space.

NARRATOR:
WHEN AMERICA WENT TO MARS TO FIND LIFE IN 1976, COLLIN PILLINGER WAS LEFT STUDYING STERILE MOON ROCKS. AND WHEN NASA ANNOUNCED THEY FOUND A DEAD PLANET, HIS HOPES WERE DASHED ABOUT EVER FINDING ALIEN LIFE FORMS.

Collin Pillinger:
The reason why Mars has come back with scientists anyway is because of these meteorites.

NARRATOR:
BUT THEN EXPEDITIONS TO THE SOUTH POLE AND ELSEWHERE STARTED TURNING UP ROCKS FROM OUTER SPACE.

Lunar Rocks.

Collin Pillinger:
It was only a few years after Viking landing, someone in the United States had the idea that you could demonstrate that Martian meteorites came from Mars by analysing traces of the atmosphere that might be trapped in the rocks when they were blasted off the planet.

Meteor Animation And Explosion.

NARRATOR:
THE VIKING MISSION POINTED TO A WAY OF IDENTIFYING BITS OF MARS BOUNCED TO EARTH BY ASTEROID IMPACTS BILLIONS OF YEARS AGO.

Explosion in space.

Mars surface.

Collin Pillinger:
When it was suggested, it was quite a controversial idea, hypothesis.

NARRATOR:
NASA HAD REJECTED COLLIN PILLINGER WHEN THEY WENT TO MARS. BUT THE TRICK HE'D LEARNT ANALYSING THEIR MOON SAMPLES COULD PUT HIM AHEAD IN THE SEARCH FOR LIFE, IF ONLY HE GOT HOLD OF A PIECE OF MARS.



Collin Pillinger:
We've discovered the carbon in lunar samples originates from the sun. And we thought about it for a while, and we realised we might have a key to this. We'd perfected a new method for looking at carbon, and carbon dioxide in 96 percent of the Martian atmosphere.

Meteorite graphic.

Collin Pillinger:
We applied it to the meteorites to see whether or not the major constituent was there. And it was matching up to the data Viking had got.

Headline graphic.

NARRATOR:
THE MISSION THAT HAD REJECTED COLLIN PILLINGER HAD GIVEN HIM THE BREAKTHROUGH.

Collin Pillinger:
And so Viking had enormous repercussions for me. Without the Viking data no one could play this game.

NARRATOR:
COLLIN MADE A STUNNING DISCOVERY, THAT THE MARS ROCKS HAD INSIDE THEM CHEMICALS CREATED BY LIFE.

Collin Pillinger:
But the studies on the meteorites have suggested, as I have already said, some amount of organic material, which is the residue of life.

Time lapse of life changing and growing.

American boys marching.

NARRATOR:
COLLIN PILLINGER SNATCHED HEADLINES WHEN HE ANNOUNCED BRITAIN HAD FOUND EVIDENCE OF LIFE ON MARS ON THE 20TH ANNEIVERSARY OF AMERICA'S FIRST MOON LANDING. HIS DISCOVERY OF A BIOLOGICAL SIGNATURE COULD ONLY BE BETTERED BY FINDING A DEAD ALIEN. AND IN 1996, THE UNITED STATES PRESIDENT ANNOUNCED EXACTLY THAT.

Martian meteorite image.



NASA voice-over:
The recent discovery of what may be fossilised Martian organisms in a Martian meteorite.

NARRATOR:
ONCE MORE, COLLIN'S GLORY HAD BEEN SNATCHED.

Lab Footage.

Rosemary Grymes, NASA:
The findings had to do with the very unique shape of a particular type of chemical crystal, magnetite crystal, and their observations that that type of shape was only made uniquely by biology, by living organisms.

Close up fossil in meteor.

Collin Pillinger:
The discovery of the fossil encouraged ESA to have a study on what was appropriate to have life exist in the solar system, and the study actually came up, and said that Mars was the most appropriate place, but the study was never, ever conceived with the aim of having a mission to Mars, if we ever had one. But it actually got people together, of which I was one, who played games. We hypothesized about what we would put on a mission to Mars if we had one.

NARRATOR:
THEN A JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE EARTH IMPACTED ON COLLIN'S FANTASY MISSION. BRITISH ANTARCTIC EXPLORERS FOUND EARTH CREATURES TOUGH ENOUGH TO LIVE ON MARS.

British Antarctic surveyor team leader in ice hut.

NARRATOR:
THE SECRET OF THIS PARTICULAR LINE OF RESEARCH IS CYANOBACTERIA WHICH ARE BLUE GREEN ALGAE. CYANOBACTERIA ARE EXPOSED TO ULTRAVIOLET RADIATION EXPOSED TO HIGH TEMPERATURES, LOW TEMPERATURES, DISSECTION, BECAUSE THEY ARE RIGHT ON THE SURFACE OF THE SOIL.

Images of cyanobacteria.

Collin Pillinger:
The discovery of creatures and organisms that live in extreme environments is in fact very important for anybody thinking about whether life can exist beyond the earth.

Svathmary:
In certain regions of Antarctica, where photosynthetic and other bacteria are living within the ice cover of certain fresh water lakes, where it is deep, where it is dark for half a year, it is very cold all the time, nevertheless, when the sun comes they wake up all the time, they start photosynthesis, it is not only the photosynthesis creatures, it is a whole consortium of creatures, who wake up, having a jolly good life there, as it were.

NARRATOR:
THE HUNGARIANS COULD USE THE ICE CREATURES OF EARTH TO SHOW THEIR THEORY OF LIFE ON MARS WAS VIABLE. THE BIOLOGISTS BECAME CONVINCED THE ASTRONOMERS WERE RIGHT. THE DARK SPOTS WERE GARDENS OF LIFE ON MARS.

Hovarth:
At the southern pole of Mars in its black soil, we will find MSOs, Mars Surface Organisms. These MSOs are a type of bacteria, similar to the blue algaes on Earth.

NARRATOR:
NOW THEY HAD A SUSPECT FOR WHO WAS MAKING THE BLACK SPOTS, THE TEAM TRIED TO IMAGINE WHAT LIFE'S REALLY LIKE FOR A MARTIAN.

Svathmary:
Miserable. Life for these bacteria, or whatever they are, would be a very tough job indeed. So let's start late summer, the bacteria are covered by water ice. By the end of winter, the first rays of sunshine start to warm up the territory and we think at this point, at some critical temperatures, and the critical life intensity, the photosynthetic Martian organisms start to absorb the light, start to accumulate the light, start to make what we call photo-synthesis, which is the carbon dioxide fixation, which is transformed into organic material, by the bacteria which has used the energy of the sunlight. When you do that, you are also warming yourself up. And the water ice becomes melted around those bacteria. And you have water, and so the organisms are now allowed to proliferate. The life cycle is in the active stage, until the bacteria or whatever these organisms are, are covered by water ice. Later this water ice disappears, because it is melting from below and evaporating from above. So you have an enlargement of the spots, and there is a moment where you have a middle, you form a hole, so there is no ice cover anymore. And that's the end for the life cycle of that bacteria. They have to go into the so-called dormant stage. They are sleeping. They are waiting for the next vegetation period.

NARRATOR:
NOW THE HUNGARIANS HAD THEIR PROOF, THEY COULD CONFRONT NASA. BUT THEY DID NOT KNOW THAT NASA WAS ALREADY PONDERING WHETHER SUCH MARTIANS HAD ALREADY INVADED ONE OF THEIR SPACE SHIPS.

Pathfinder Pics

Swamp Thing Banjos

NARRATOR:
WHEN HUNGARIAN SCIENTISTS CLAIMED IMAGES OF MARS THAT NASA SAID SHOWED FROST PATCHES, WERE IN FACT PICTURES OF AN ALIEN LIFE FORM, THEY FEARED ATTACKS.

Spokesman:
We don't buy their scientific explanation for the phenomena.

Hovarth:
Of course NASA have examined the pictures, but they were not brave enough to recognise a hypothesis of a biological origin for the spots.

NARRATOR:
BUT THIS YEAR, A NASA INSTITUTE INVITED THE MARTIAN HERETICS TO LECTURE THEM ABOUT ALIEN LIFE. IT HAD SEEMED ONLY AN ATTACK BY MARTIANS COULD WIN ANYONE OVER TO THE HUNGARIANS' VIEWS. BUT THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT AMERICA'S SPACE MEN HAD FACED.

Animated rocket shoots up.

Pathfinder footage.



NARRATOR:
IN 1997, NASA PATHFINDER PROBE LANDED ON MARS. WITH NO ONE EXPECTING A MARTIAN ATTACK, PATHFINDER WAS TOOLED UP ONLY FOR GEOLOGICAL TESTS. THE SPACE SHIP HAD SPENT THREE SUMMERS ON THE MARTIAN SOIL, WHEN NASA MADE AN ANNOUNCEMENT STRAIGHT OUT OF SCIENCE FICTION. SIGNS OF CHLOROPHYL, THE STUFF OF PLANT LIFE, HAD MADE THEIR WAY ONTO PATHFINDER'S BODY.

Music.

Pic Jumps to lander leg.

NARRATOR:
NASA PLAYED DOWN FEARS OF AN INVASION OF LITTLE GREEN CREATURES. BUT SUCH A DANGER DID NOTHING TO DETER COLLIN PILLINGER FROM HIS MISSION.

Collin Pillinger:
2003 is in fact the best opportunity for looking at Mars. Some people say 20,000 years and some people say longer, and this is the reason Mars has become so important in 2003. You can actually get space craft there with the maximum payload on and the minimum expenditure of fuel.

NARRATOR:
BUT IN 1996, COLLIN'S MISSION WAS STILL FANTASY. THE RUSSIANS HAD BEAT HIM TO IT. THEIR GIANT ROCKETS WERE ABOUT TO PUT A SATELLITE AND A LANDER ON MARS. BUT THE POST-COMMUNIST VISION FELL BACK DOWN TO EARTH. RUSSIA'S MARS-96 MISSION TUMBLED INTO THE SEA AFTER LAUNCH. RUSSIA'S DISASTER WAS AN OPPORTUNITY. THE EUROPEAN UNION COULD USE ROCKETS TO ENTER THE SPACE RACE. COLLIN PILLINGER SAW HIS CHANCE WHEN THE EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY, ESA, DECIDED TO RE-LAUNCH RUSSIA'S MARS SATELLITE.

Freight qualification title.

Rocket animation.

Cut to real rocket.

Collin Pillinger:
When I heard they were going to have an orbiter, I went to the meeting and said, you have to have a lander, this is what you want to be doing in the space business, is landing on things, it is only by getting down and getting your hands dirty that you learn the truth of things. I picked up the telephone, and rang everyone in the UK that was interested in space science, and said if we could put together a proposal to build a Mars lander, would you be interested?

Alan:
I thought he was pretty crazy, I have to say, because it is pretty ambitious to put all these instruments down on the surface of Mars in a lander that weighs 30 kilograms, and the European Space Agency just tried to pull his plans apart.

Collin Pillinger:
It became obvious this was not going to be very easy.

Pillinger 1970s lab footage.

NARRATOR:
BUT THEN PILLINGER FOUND A DISCIPLE, THE BOY HE HAD INSPIRED WITH HIS MOON ROCKS.

Collin Pillinger:
Mark Simms is the mainstay of the programme. As a small boy, he queued up to look at Lunar samples at the University of Bristol that I put on display. He claims that I inspired him to become a physicist and an astronomer.

Mark and Collin together.

NARRATOR:
COLLIN PILLINGER HAD THE TEAM TO MAKE HIS DREAM COME TRUE

Music: Everybody gets to get to go to the moon
Don't it make your proud to be a man.

Mark Simms:
Myself and several other people thought this guy is slightly crazy, it is a hell of thing to do, to build a lander to go to another planet.

Alan Simms:
Well, I was involved in the very early stages of the project when it was just a sketch on a blackboard.

Mark Simms:
And the more myself and other people thought about it, the more we thought it was possible do something new and innovative.

Collin Pillinger:
We had no money, and most agreed they'd be prepared to work on design of the project, certainly up until real money had to spent, up to the time of cutting metal to make the spacecraft.

Alan Simms:
There's no way we were going to get the funds to do this.

Collin Pillinger:
If we could get it approved technologically, then we would have a strong argument for saying to somebody, well, find the money.

NARRATOR:
NASA SPENT $800 MILLION DOLLARS ON SOPHISTICATED TESTS BUT THEY COULDN'T FIGURE OUT HOW BRITAIN COULD GET TO MARS FOR 30 MILLION POUNDS.

Parachute test.

Blue Suits Test MER.

Collin Pillinger:
We came up with a technical sound proposal which was put before a committee that was brought over from NASA and the chairman said, I don't understand your ways of doing things, it seems crazy but it seems to work.

Clapping at MER test.

Pathfinder pan.

NARRATOR:
THE YEAR OF PATHFINDER'S CLOSE ENCOUNTER HAD MARKED A TURNING POINT FOR NASA. AFTER 25 YEARS OF DENIAL, THE SPACE AGENCY SET UP AN INSTITUTE TO STUDY ALIEN LIFE.

NASA logo twirl.

Collin Pillinger:
The discovery of creatures and organisms that live in extreme environments is in fact very important for anybody thinking about whether life can exist beyond the earth. Years ago we thought there was a very narrow range that were appropriate for life to live, up to 60 degrees, that sort of thing but through research over the last dozen or so the organism have more tenacity than thought.

Rosemary Grymes, NASA:
There was a certain change in the environment when NASA elected to set up the NASA Astrobiological Institution. We stood at a crossroads of society as an international society, of being able to genuinely conceive of finding answers to fundamental questions.

NARRATOR:
THE TURNAROUND WAS COMPLETE THIS YEAR, WHEN NASA SENT A DELEGATE TO A CONFERENCE INSPIRED BY BRITISH ASTRONOMER SIR FRED HOYLE. HE HAD BEEN MOCKED SINCE THE 1970S, FOR HIS BELIEF THAT THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE IS PREGNANT WITH LIFE.

Heather Cooper:
And they were going completely over the top, in my estimation, they were saying that life came to earth fully formed on comets, in the shape of comet eggs, and stuff like that, hype about life in the universe, generated by Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wrickramising, who was his colleague. NASA didn't want to be associated with that type of thing.

Chandra Wrickramasing:
The setting up of a NASA Astro-Biology Institute marks a turning point in the acceptance of a marriage between astronomy and biology. This is something that Fred Hoyle and I had fought to accomplish for a very long time, and the first suggestions for such a combination were made by Fred Hoyle in a lecture that he delivered in Cardiff in 1979.

Universe animation.

Chandra Wrickramasing:
We were looking at the properties of dust in interstellar space. And the dust shows up as very conspicuous structures on the night sky and against the background of the stars that makes up shapes like elephants trunks and horsehide nebulae led us to the investigations that were done by myself and my colleague Sir Fred Hoyle, led us to the conclusion that the dust is made of the element carbon. And of course, carbon is the key element of life. So the connection became really, quite obvious to us, that there was some link between the dust in deep space and life here on the earth.

NARRATOR:
THE CARDIFF ASTRONOMERS BECAME CONVINCED SPACE ITSELF IS FILLED WITH MICROBIAL LIFE. ANALYSIS OF RADIO SIGNALS DETECTED SUGARS AND VINEGAR IN SPACE, SUBSTANCES ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY MADE BY LIVING THINGS. FURTHER TESTS SHOWED THE GRAINS OF SPACE DUST MATCHED THE SIZE OF BACTERIA. THE CONCLUSIONS WERE AS BIZARRE AS THEY WERE INESCAPABLE. GALACTIC CLOUDS ARE CRADLES OF LIFE AND GRAVEYARDS OF BACTERIA. BUT WHERE DID THE BUGS BREED, AND HOW DID THEY GET BETWEEN THE STARS?

Chandra Wrickramasing:
Within this model, it is the comets that are the transporters and the amplifiers of cosmic life.

Wallace:
And in his collaboration with Chandra Wrickramingsinge, they saw, and this was very far sighted, they saw comets are sending all these particles to the earth, and that they do land softly on the earth, although they are moving high speed, is a soft cushion that slows them down gradually, so they can drift to the earth's surface, and actually detecting these in dust and debris and sand storms is very difficult, the way to find them is to go into space.

NARRATOR:
BUT HOW COULD CHANDRA GET TO SPACE? AFTER YEARS OF RIDICULE AND DERISION, NO ONE WOULD GIVE HIM A SPACE SHIP. CHANDRA HAD RETREATED TO HIS BIRTHPLACE IN SRI LANKA AND REALISED THE WAY TO BEAT HIS TORMENTORS WAS IN HIS OWN BACK YARD. INDIA'S SPACE AGENCY HAD A BALLOON. THE INDIANS DIDN'T HAVE NASA BILLION DOLLAR BUDGETS. BUT THEY COULD MAKE A DEVICE TO CATCH PARTICLES HIGH ABOVE THE EARTH. IN 2001, MISSION CONTROL ASSEMBLED IN A FIELD IN HYDERABAD FOR LIFT OFF. THE BALLOON FLEW 41 KILOMETRES TO THE EDGE OF SPACE AND BROUGHT BACK SAMPLES. THEY WERE FLOWN TO CARDIFF, THEN TO A SHEFFIELD LABORATORY.

Indians making device.

Lab images.

Milton Wainwright, chemical biologist.

Milton Wainwright:
Well, Professor Vikram Singh and Fred Hoyle have this theory that life comes from outer space, it comes from the universe, that life is a cosmic imperative, life comes from everywhere out there in space, and it lands on earth. They have been lampooned, people have called them mad. This will be vindication of their work, their ideas over this period.

NARRATOR:
PROFESSOR WAINWRIGHT HAD TO ISOLATE LIVING BACTERIA FROM SPACE DUST. AFTER CULTIVATING THE SAMPLES, THE PROFESSOR LOOKED THROUGH A MICROSCOPE. HE SAW EVIDENCE THAT WHAT HAD BEEN CAUGHT OUTSIDE THE EARTH WAS GROWING IN HIS LAB.

Milton Wainwright:
Your first response is doubt, there must be something wrong, I've done something wrong. But eventually as the data comes in, as the information comes in, you begin to realise that it is okay, and that you can get exited about it. It is probably the most, one of the most important findings certainly this century, probably of all time. Life exists elsewhere.

Chandra Wrickramasing:
Comets are bringing material, living material onto the earth.

Milton:
It is the greatest discovery in biology.



NARRATOR:
THE SPACE BUGS CAPTURED BY THE BALLOON APPEAR SIMILAR TO EARTH MICROBES, GIVING A BOOST TO THOSE WHO SAY LIFE, BOTH ON EARTH AND ON MARS AND THROUGHOUT THE UNIVERSE, ORIGINATES FROM SPACE.

Alan Simms:
When Beagle 2 lands and we get the first data back, it will be the culmination of six years of effort, it will be a mixture of elation, and now we have to actually do the science.

Collin Pillinger:
This is a complete geological field trip. You are going there with a set of cameras that enable you to look around. You have a way of grinding off the outside of rocks which are close to the lander. There is also a way of getting below the surface called the mole. The best place to get a sample is below a rock which hasn't been moved around. The mole does not just borrow straight down, it can crawl under a rock. There is actually another camera that is part of a microscope, so you can look very closely at the sample. The instrument which is designed to look for past life on Mars is a mass spectrometer, and this is a rather versatile instrument, in that it can look for carbon compounds, it can also measure nitrogen, which is the main element in water, so it can look at other elements, which is biological. If there is any biology anywhere on Mars, it doesn't have to be close, it could be miles and miles away. It could be under the polar ice cap of Mars, it could be deep down in some geological hot spot. If there are some organisms working and doing biological things, then a way organisms can get energy is to reduce carbon dioxide to methane. If an organism does that it, pumps out methane as waste product. Methane gets contributed into the atmosphere, so something that is happening thousands of miles away, a trace of it occurring will go past the Beagle site, and if we process enough of the atmosphere, we may be able to come up these tiny tiny trace constituents, and if we were able to come up with some traces of methane, we could say that maybe somewhere on this planet, there is some real living organisms that are currently doing their thing now.

Alan Simms:
Beagle gunna sit on the surface of Mars and be exposed to cold temperatures, winds of 20 metres per second. Lots of radiation.

Collin Pillinger:
As the mission progresses, and dust settles over the arrays, it will be more difficult to charge up the battery.

Alan Simms:
Beagle is designed to survive that environment, but ultimately that environment will kill Beagle.

Collin Pillinger:
There will come a time when there isn't enough battery charge to get you through the night, and a day it just won't wake up.

Alan Simms:
Beagle will probably die a few hundred days after it lands on the surface.

Collin Pillinger:
We may put it out of its misery before that, but my guess is that we will let it run until it just doesn't wake up one day.

American rovers on Mars.

NARRATOR:
THE DEATH WILL NOT BE LONELY. AMERICA'S ROVERS WILL ALSO HAVE FOLLOWED BEAGLE TO THEIR DOOM.

Rovers scoot over the horizon.

Svathmary:
Even if the two types of organisms, Martian and earth, turn out to be related, very deep in the past, then we will learn a lot about how evolution can take alternative courses.

Wallace:
If we can once say, come to this recognition that evolution is being driven partly from things from space, then our place in the universe and our view of ourselves in the universe must be changed fundamentally. It is not only that we realise that there may be other beings out there, but we are also part of evolution that has happened out there.

NARRATOR:
IF BEAGLE 2 CONFIRMS THERE IS LIFE ON MARS, BRITAIN MAY NOT HAVE FOUND AN ALIEN, BUT REACHED OUT TO A LONG LOST RELATIVE OF OURSELVES.

Music over and images of bacteria to plants to man.

Music: Dolly Parton sings Stairway to Heaven.
Lyrics:
Every question that we ask
The truth will come to us at last

END

Credits

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