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#26 2004-12-04 04:51:12

GraemeSkinner
Member
From: Eden Hall, Cumbria
Registered: 2004-02-20
Posts: 563
Website

Re: (Non-)Official Life on Mars Poll - Does it exist?

[color=#000000:post_uid0]   There is one obvious flaw in my argument, and that is: Why were the Viking life experiments allowed to fly in the first place? Where was the conspiracy back in the early seventies, when the Viking landers were in the planning stage?
    My only answer to that is to suggest that the political scene must have changed in some way since the mid-seventies.[/color:post_uid0][/quote:post_uid0]
[color=#000080:post_uid0]Perhaps the goals are the same as when Viking flew but the people who design the rovers/missions are just going about the search for life on Mars in a different way. Perhaps they already know what type of life can exist there and are looking for evidence of ways that life can be supported first of all rather than the life itself.
If NASA don't want to find signs of life, why are they sending rovers at all, they could claim that the data from previous rovers was enough to show the planet was lifeless and not worth our return. The fact that they are still interested in missions suggests they are still hopeful of finding [i:post_uid0]something[/i:post_uid0].

Graeme[/color:post_uid0]


There was a young lady named Bright.
Whose speed was far faster than light;
She set out one day
in a relative way
And returned on the previous night.
--Arthur Buller--

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#27 2004-12-04 14:45:32

Mad Grad Student
Member
From: Phoenix, Arizona, North Americ
Registered: 2003-11-09
Posts: 498
Website

Re: (Non-)Official Life on Mars Poll - Does it exist?

[color=#000F22:post_uid0]I highly doubt that NASA is trying actively to not find life on Mars. It's debatible, if not very doubtful, that there is any life on the planet's surface, and without people actually on the planet to supervise that's where they're limited to looking. Even robotic missions are very expensive, and they want that money to be put to good use. Building a rover to look for water means that you still end up with a well-rounded science package that can be used for general geology, so even if you don't find water you can still learn a lot. The instruments that would be used to find life are highly specialized and limited in scope. What if you go there looking for a certain kind of bacteria and don't find it, only to have real bacteria right under your nose but undetectable because you don't have the right instruments. Looking for life is just inherantly risky, and I highly doubt that slow, dumb robots with a limited repitoire of skills and tools are up to the task. NASA probably agrees.

If NASA were to find proof-positive evidence for life on Mars it would be an enormous boost to the agency. Suddenly Mars would be universally considered the coolest place in the solar system and even the staunchest opponents of the space program would be willing to give some money to study the newfound aliens. If NASA knew a way to make finding life easy and a sure bet they'd go with it in a heatbeat, but that just simply can't be done. Finding life is just too [i:post_uid0]hard[/i:post_uid0].[/color:post_uid0]


A mind is like a parachute- it works best when open.

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#28 2004-12-04 19:28:26

Shaun Barrett
Member
From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: (Non-)Official Life on Mars Poll - Does it exist?

[color=#000000:post_uid4]Good points Graeme and MadGrad.
    I hope it's clear from my posts that I'm not some kind of crazy conspiracy theorist, insisting NASA's out to get me!  big_smile
    I'm really just relaying my thoughts and feelings about what I perceive as a peculiar situation regarding NASA's attitude to the 'Life-on-Mars' question and how I've come around to the idea that [b:post_uid4][i:post_uid4]maybe[/i:post_uid4][/b:post_uid4] there's a pattern to it. As I've said:-

I can't be certain that anything is really going on; the evidence is all anecdotal and circumstantial.[/quote:post_uid4]
    But, even though the evidence is all circumstantial, I think the total lack of any NASA bio-probes to Mars in at least 33 years, just on its own, is probably enough circumstantial evidence to get the average jury's attention in a court of law!

    Anyhow, there are many ways to look at the Life-on-Mars problem, one of which is being discussed, as we speak, at another thread in this Forum ('Fear mongering and life on Mars').
    If there's life on Mars, is it going to upset somebody's fundamentalist religious beliefs? .. The oldest of contests .. Religion v. science
    If there's life on Mars, does that constitute a reason to go there or a reason not to? .. The imperialist biologists v. the radical 'greens'.
    If life is found on Mars, and if that is deemed a good reason to send astronauts, will big money be diverted away from unmanned exploration to accomplish this? .. The comfortable robotic probe industry (JPL) v. the human exploration enthusiasts.
    But if the public can be persuaded (using smoke and mirrors! ) that martian life, if any, is potentially lethal to terrestrial life, then perhaps discovering any such life needn't ruin JPL's income stream. Sending humans would become a political hot potato and Sample Return Missions (SRMs) and Containment Facilities would keep the robotic probe people, and LEO merry-go-round riders and possibly the Lunar Base afficionados too, busy and well-heeled for decades. .. Again, the robotic probe industry v. human space exploration.

    With all these vested interests - religious fundamentalists, biologists and geologists, radical greens, robotic exploration advocates, human exploration enthusiasts, etc. - it's possible that all sorts of undercurrents of self-interest and self-promotion are in play. And the politicians, with their pork barrelling and desperation to buy their way back into power at all costs, only add to the complexity!

    I believe we need to be vigilant and read between the lines when various parties make statements. We at the Mars Society want the human exploration and colonisation of Mars to proceed as swiftly as possible - that's what this organisation is all about. But of course there are many others out there with opposing philosophies, who will do whatever they can to achieve their ends.
    Jeff Bell springs to mind as one such antagonist and the recent nonsensical scare-mongering by ignorant or prejudiced journalists about martian pathogens is a prime example also.

    If my 'conspiracy theory' musings achieve nothing else, I hope they will serve to illustrate that there's probably much more going on than meets the eye - even if I don't know exactly what!
                                                                             :;):
    We really need to watch our backs here if we hope to see astronauts on Mars before we all die of old age!  :bars:[/color:post_uid4]


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#29 2005-01-18 07:07:03

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,385

Re: (Non-)Official Life on Mars Poll - Does it exist?

[color=#000000:post_uid14] Researchers Develop New Machine for Detecting Signs of Life on Mars

Scientists continue to explore Mars for elusive signs of life. A new tool should help in the hunt. The Mars Organic Analyzer (MOA) can detect and identify amino acids with 1,000 times greater sensitivity than the Viking probes that landed on the Red Planet in 1976. [/quote:post_uid14]

[img:post_uid14]http://www.sciam.com/media/inline/000E4 … 0000_1.gif[/img:post_uid14]

It appears that the  briefcase-size MOA, which includes laser spectroscopy, tiny pumps, valves and fluid channels for sampling the martian soil but it also has knobs on the side. How will a robot turn these? ???

Great results thou form a test at detecting amino acids at 70 parts per trillion from a Panoche Valley, California. This test sample mineral jarosite is simular to patches that were discovered on Mars last year by the rover Opportunity.
The device was also previous tested in the  Atacama Desert in Chile one of the driest place on Earth.

The MOA is being developed for the European Space Agency's (ESA) ExoMars mission, scheduled to launch in 2009. "ExoMars will be ESA's first mission to carry an exobiology payload, a set of instruments specifically designed to search for life," says Jorge Vago, ExoMars study scientist. "Our intention is to define a multi-instrument package that will be able to fulfill a number of key tasks." --Sarah Graham [/quote:post_uid14]

This will be another great cooperational venture with the ESA and I hope that it will be successful.  big_smile[/color:post_uid14]

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#30 2005-01-18 10:17:18

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,385

Re: (Non-)Official Life on Mars Poll - Does it exist?

[color=#000000:post_uid14]Other post was large so here is a continuation:

Chip sniffs out the building blocks of life

This article contains more of the same but gives more details into how the instrument will work in order to find life signs.

Dying to detect
A probe carrying the device would scoop up a sample of soil and place it into the MOD, which would heat up the sample to 500°C. This heat should cause any organic molecules in the rock to turn to gas, which could then be condensed onto a cold, dye-covered surface.

The dye attaches to a particular reactive group, present on all amino acids, so if any of these molecules are present they become labelled. Any fluorescence seen by the detector indicates the presence of an amino acid. At this stage the MOA takes over. Through a series of tiny pumps and channels, the analyser can separate out different amino acids.
[/quote:post_uid14]

The finish of the article talks of changes that would be implemented aboard the next generation rover that would go in 2009 to mars.

Instead of the Mars Organic Analyzer, the roving Mars Science Laboratory will carry the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument suite to detect organic compounds. It uses a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer - an advanced version of the device flown on the Viking landers. In addition, a laser will vaporise soil so its molecular composition can be analysed.
[/quote:post_uid14][/color:post_uid14]

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#31 2005-01-18 18:50:48

Shaun Barrett
Member
From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: (Non-)Official Life on Mars Poll - Does it exist?

[color=#000000:post_uid8]Thanks SpaceNut, for the following quote:-

"Instead of the Mars Organic Analyzer, the roving Mars Science Laboratory will carry the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument suite to detect organic compounds. It uses a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer - an advanced version of the device flown on the Viking landers."

    Well, this is really a turn-up for the books when you think about it, isn't it?   ???
    The results of the Viking life-search experiments, at least one of which provided good evidence for the existence of biological activity in Martian soil, were deemed to be negative.
    Why?
    Because the Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GCMS) carried by the Vikings showed no evidence of organic material in the same soil, "down to parts-per-billion levels". If there's no organic material, there's no life .. simple!
    For many years now, despite overwhelming evidence that the type of GCMS sent to Mars was hopelessly insensitive (it failed to detect carbon compunds in batches of Antarctic soil here on Earth - soil [b:post_uid8][i:post_uid8]known[/i:post_uid8][/b:post_uid8] to contain breeding colonies of bacteria!! ), the Viking data has not been officially re-examined.

    The official NASA position is that Viking found no evidence for life [b:post_uid8]because there's no organic material in the Martian topsoil!![/b:post_uid8]
    Now NASA's sending a new GCMS to look for .. (you're kidding?! .. nope! ..) .. [b:post_uid8]organic material in the Martian topsoil![/b:post_uid8]
    But NASA [b:post_uid8]knows[/b:post_uid8] there isn't any, and has since 1976.
    Go figure!   :hm:[/color:post_uid8]


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#32 2005-01-19 14:02:01

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: (Non-)Official Life on Mars Poll - Does it exist?

[color=#810541:post_uid9]

For many years now, despite overwhelming evidence that the type of GCMS sent to Mars was hopelessly insensitive (it failed to detect carbon compunds in batches of Antarctic soil here on Earth - soil known to contain breeding colonies of bacteria!! ), [/quote:post_uid9]

*Good grief.  :-\  I want to laugh, but it's too sad really...  Actually, I did laugh a bit -- sarcastically.

the Viking data has not been officially re-examined.
[/quote:post_uid9]

*What to say to this?   :bars:  Except to ask them WHY NOT?  ???

The official NASA position is that Viking found no evidence for life because there's no organic material in the Martian topsoil!!
   Now NASA's sending a new GCMS to look for .. (you're kidding?! .. nope! ..) .. organic material in the Martian topsoil!
   But NASA knows there isn't any, and has since 1976.
[/quote:post_uid9]

*LOL!  I'll bet they wish people wouldn't keep track of their inconsistencies.   tongue  Yeah, something's up.  It can be so frustrating.  sad

--Cindy[/color:post_uid9]


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#33 2005-01-29 18:26:40

dickbill
Member
Registered: 2002-09-28
Posts: 749

Re: (Non-)Official Life on Mars Poll - Does it exist?

[color=#000000:post_uid0]I just read the poll here. How could people be so sure that Mars is a germy planet ?
That it was, maybe...that it is now..hmmm. Hopefully Mars is more fun because you can always explore to find a niche where life could hatch or just microfossils.
I think the quest for life on Mars will be over when most of the hot volcanic spots will have been drilled down to 10 miles to the mantle, not anytime soon.
Because, remember the "sterilizing impact theory", that life appeared in several spots, at several time during early earth history, only to be swept out by meteoritic impacts during that period when earth was under heavy bombardments (We cannot escape bombardments these days).

So finding something similar to the nanofossils present in meteorit ALH81004 (a goal for future rovers) in the tinyest spot on Mars will be indication of at least one aborted attempt for life.[/color:post_uid0]

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#34 2006-10-23 16:45:13

Tholzel
Banned
From: Boston
Registered: 2004-03-20
Posts: 56

Re: (Non-)Official Life on Mars Poll - Does it exist?

<<1) Earth and Mars were similar about 3.5 bya - in terms of air, water, temperature.
2) Life existed on Earth 3.5 bya.
3) Earth and Mars have never been quarantined from each other because of impact transfer of crustal material. (More impacts back then.)
4) It follows that life existed on Mars 3.5 bya.
...>>

Not true. 
1. Mars is so small, it's interior would have had a molten metal core for only the shortest time period.
1A. Being farther away, it has less sun-warming.
1b. with the sun 30% colder then than now, it was even colder still on the surface than now.
2. With its molten core cooling down, it lost its magnetic field.
3. with no magnetic field, no van Allen belt was there to shield the planet from deadly cosmic rays, which then sterilized any surface life, if there ever was any.
4.with such cold, water vapor never got going to provide a heat shield so that the surface could warm up.

QED, Mars was never warm, is now the warmest it has ever been, but has the first several inches of its surface sterilized.  Thus, any creepy-crawlies must be underground, if they ever arose, and extremophiles in the extreme--i.e., one celled cretures at best.  Not good eating.

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#35 2007-11-13 04:54:13

Zydar
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2007-08-14
Posts: 74

Re: (Non-)Official Life on Mars Poll - Does it exist?

I have been led to believe that the Martian atmosphere contains 95% carbon dioxide, yet a different figure is being quoted in the last post. If the atmosphere has 64.36574% carbon dioxide, what is contained in the other 35.63426%?

Could it be possible that this percentage contains oxygen? If this is the case, then intelligent life could exist and survive on the planet.

Zydar

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#36 2007-11-13 07:04:27

Rxke
Member
From: Belgium
Registered: 2003-11-03
Posts: 3,667

Re: (Non-)Official Life on Mars Poll - Does it exist?

That last post was simply wrong re: percentage of CO2

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