NASA: Ancient Mars could have supported life!

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Romulan_spy, Mar 12, 2013.

  1. Romulan_spy

    Romulan_spy Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2000
    Location:
    Terre Haute, IN. USA
  2. gturner

    gturner Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2005
    Location:
    Kentucky
    I think we knew this. Dirt + flowing water means the place could have supported pumpkins and vine-ripe tomatoes. Nowdays, not so much.
     
  3. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2000
    Location:
    QC, IL, USA
    Yeah, as soon as they discovered water I thought this was a given. It's cool that they're still continuing to gather more data, though. My least favorite thing about science is that, even if we can prove that life once existed on Mars, we'll never be able to see it.

    What I often wonder is this. If life did exist on Mars at one point, how far did it evolve? Microbes? Plants? Did Mars have oceans full of crazy Martian fish? If we ever make it to Mars and establish long-term colonization there, will we one day discover the fossils of an ancient Martian dinosaur?
     
  4. gturner

    gturner Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2005
    Location:
    Kentucky
    Reading the story, what they found is unoxidized and partially-oxidized elements (iron, sulfur, phosphorus, etc) in Martian sedimentary rocks that could've served as an energy source for bacteria, like what we see in hydrothermal vents in the deep ocean. Of course to me this also indicates that there weren't microbes taking full advantage of the conditions or they'd have oxidized the elements to extract the energy.

    Not finding any signs of life does have some major benefits for Mars exploration. If we find any traces of life then there's almost no way we could put a human on the planet in the foreseeable future because of the risk of contaminating the environment with Earth bacteria, forever ruining some of the potential science.
     
  5. Icemizer

    Icemizer Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2008
    Please gt, there is no way science is going to stand in the way of exploitation of Mars.
     
  6. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    "Who are you?"
    Sorry, no.

    In science, just because something may be unsurprising given a trend in recent discoveries, it is not the same as being "a given."

    In particular, just because it was already known that important necessary chemicals and conditions were present for life as we understand it, it doesn't follow from that alone that there weren't other chemicals or aspects of the environment which might have precluded life. Indeed, the article says:
    Those are some of the new results.

    Also both promising and significant is:

    This is conformation that Curiosity is in the right spot to be exploring for evidence of life as we understand it.

    ---

    One reason scientists are still gathering data is because the existence of life at any point in the history of Mars is still not given.
     
  7. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2000
    Location:
    QC, IL, USA
    Never said the existence of life was a given, just that the possibility of life was a given.
     
  8. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    "Who are you?"
    No. I covered that, too, first.
     
  9. gturner

    gturner Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2005
    Location:
    Kentucky
    It already has, with the debacle about Curiosities drill that didn't get re-sterilized properly. Under the mission rules they can't allow the rover to get near water for fear of causing a contamination from Earth bacteria.

    Finding life won't stop the exploitation of Mars, but it will throw up some major road blocks to human presence as scientists insist on a heck of a lot more remote sampling of the indigenous life before they dare risk contaminating any of it. The number of unmanned missions will go way, way up, as will the requirements of manned-mission sterilization.
     
  10. T J

    T J Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2004
    Location:
    milky way... there abouts
    Weekly scientists breaking news, "Still no life found. That is all."

    Check.
     
  11. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell so far this is a dumb future Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2001
    Location:
    comments 2 my butt
    Yeah, it's not like we're learning anything at all about Mars here.