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Life on Mars

I’m going to go out on a limb here:

With the recent discovery of (evidence for) liquid water on the surface of Mars, there’s going to be life there.

My own personal hypothesis would be that it’s either going to be terrestrial life that was transported to Mars via rock ejected from Earth by the impact of past meteors or the other way around, an idea known as panspermia. One solid possibility would be Earth –> Mars via ejecta following the Chicxulub asteroid impact in Mexico. It is commonly thought that Mars may have been a much more hospitable place long ago, including large seas suggested by potassium-thorium-iron enriched areas visible by Gamma Ray Spectrometer. This enrichment may be explained as an accumulation deposited by liquid water on the surface of the planet.

A superimposition of gamma-ray data from Mars Odyssey's Gamma-Ray Spectrometer onto topographic data from the laser altimeter onboard the Mars Global Surveyor.

A superimposition of gamma-ray data from Mars Odyssey’s Gamma-Ray Spectrometer onto topographic data from the laser altimeter onboard the Mars Global Surveyor.

If this is correct, some residual bacteria-like organisms remaining from a more biotic history could have seeded Earth in a Chicxulub-like impact of Mars.

“Tetsuya Hara, et al, at Kyoto Sangyo University in Japan have calculated that a large amount of Earth landed on the Moon and Mars, but also on other planets that may be compatible with life—the Jovian moon, Europa, the Saturnian moon, Enceladus, and more surprisingly even planets like Earth orbiting other stars.” (from askwhy)

On porrible map of Chicxulub asteroid ejecta

On possible map of Chicxulub asteroid ejecta

Regardless of any relationship between the life of the two planets, I have to say that I’m firmly on the side of manifest destiny here. I completely understand the arguments against contaminating another planet with life from this one, but I don’t imagine a future without Earthlings spreading to the other planets of this solar system.

Without the need to transport masses of water, NASA (and other Terrestrial space agencies) may suddenly see a manned mission to Mars as imminently do-able. The question changes from could we go to should we go? What are our obligations if our presence there will disturb an extant biosystem?

Carl Sagan said “no.” It was his belief that any planet with indigenous life should be protected from human intrusion. Perhaps an inspiration for Star Trek’s Prime Directive.

On this issue, I would have to part with Sagan’s advice – perhaps on purely selfish grounds. I want humans to explore the heavens and I believe that a strict policy like this Prime Directive would prevent that forever.

If you are reading this, take a moment contribute your two bits.

If possible, should humans go to and possibly remain, on Mars?

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Delving into the Bigfoot Aliens who built the Pyramids in Giza

ImageThe Science Channel and Animal Planet have some excellent science and nature programming that I enjoy watching with my son. It makes me happy to see his interest piqued by Big Cat Diaries or How It’s Made or The Wonders of the Universe.

ImageBut it troubles me that sometimes these shows will end and immediately something about Bigfoot’s Ghost comes on. The positive effect of quality program rapidly erodes when juxtaposed against pseudo-science hogwash and I’m not sure how to handle it other than to constantly talk to him about what good science looks like compared to a well choreographed hoax or wild goose chase. ‘Does the Loch Ness Monster really control the US Stock Market?’

‘We may never know….’

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Explore an expanding Universe and a shrinking Intellect back to back on the science channel

‘But wait!’ you say.’Isn’t there some merit to asking the question? I mean, we don’t know for sure do we?’

Of course. The robot overlords may actually be the ones who keep making us forget where we left our car keys. But is it really the most likely answer? Maybe you weren’t paying attention when you put them down because you also had groceries, your iPhone and a couple of old coffee cups in your hands when you came home.

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Gad Zooks! A ghost bite!

Do we have no way of sorting out probable causes from improbable ones?

Discovery Communications, owners of The Science Channel, The Discovery Channel, TLC and other media outlets offers this mission statement:

 

dcimissionstatement

Hey, Ghostbusters was entertaining and engaging. But was it enlightening?

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Take a nice close look at the surface of Mars

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What is this rock made of?

Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True webiste uncovers a lot of gems on the internet. Recently, he posted a link to Nasa’s billion-pixel panoramic photo (composite) from the Curiosity rover. You can  take a close look at a great deal of Martian landscape using their viewer. Just below the panorama are links that will drag you to come intriguing places in the image (a shiny white object in the sand, what seriously looks like a Martian bird – I can’t stand not knowing what this really is, etc.) I also found a rock that the rover had broken open that exposed a shiny, light-colored interior (above).

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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