Mars lander's taste test finds salty environment

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Agent 204 Agent 204's picture
Mars lander's taste test finds salty environment

 

Agent 204 Agent 204's picture

Interesting:

quote:

The Phoenix lander's first taste test of soil near Mars' north pole reveals a briny environment similar to what can be found in backyards on Earth, scientists said Thursday.

The finding raises hope that the Martian arctic plains could have conditions favourable for primitive life. Phoenix landed a month ago to study the habitability of Mars' northern latitudes.

“There's nothing about it that would preclude life. In fact, it seems very friendly,” mission scientist Samuel Kounaves of Tufts University said of the soil. “There's nothing about it that's toxic.”

Phoenix so far has not detected organic carbon considered an essential building block of life. Last week, the lander found evidence of ice below the soil. Scientists generally agree that liquid water, a stable energy source and organic, or carbon-containing, compounds are required for a habitable zone.


[url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080626.wphoenix0626... I am torn; if it turns out that there's life on Mars that would be amazing and important, but it would also mean that it would be hard to justify colonizing the planet- almost inevitably, some terrestrial microbe would escape and mess things up. So on the one hand this could be seen as a disappointing finding.

On the other hand, if Mars has all the necessary nutrients but lacks actual life, we could not only colonize it, we might be able to terraform it.

500_Apples

Agent I do not understand where you are coming from.

quote:

Source. I am torn; if it turns out that there's life on Mars that would be amazing and important, but it would also mean that it would be hard to justify colonizing the planet- almost inevitably, some terrestrial microbe would escape and mess things up.

1) Who cares if we destroy the primordial life there?
2) Even if both of us care, would THAT actually be the item that shifts policy?

quote:

On the other hand, if Mars has all the necessary nutrients but lacks actual life, we could not only colonize it, we might be able to terraform it.

The only thing that's missing is either political will or a benevolent billionaire.

I'm reading Robert Zubrin's [i]The Case for Mars[/i] right now, apparently back in the early 1990s Bush Sr. asked NASA for a Mars mission plan. They went wild and constructed their plan around the technnology they wanted to have. A permanent space base, assembling large interplanetary spaceships in orbit, a base on the moon for refuelling, et cetera. The price tag went to US$ 450 billion and Congress killed it. Interestingly, we could have had a permanent colony on Mars by now and multiple copies of what Zubrin mockingly refers to as "Battlstar Galactica" for a quarter the cost of the Iraq war.

Personally I think NASA is so conservative, and the budget situation so bad, that I'll be surprised if we have a human landing by 2050. Current plans are for 2031 (lol) but one of Obama's policy is to cut funding for the Mars program to increase funding for education (wtf).

Agent 204 Agent 204's picture

quote:


Originally posted by 500_Apples:
[b]1) Who cares if we destroy the primordial life there?[/b]

We have a bad enough track record with destroying life forms here. If there's life there, is it so much to ask for us not to destroy it?

quote:

[b]2) Even if both of us care, would THAT actually be the item that shifts policy?[/b]

Probably not, no.

quote:

[b]Personally I think NASA is so conservative, and the budget situation so bad, that I'll be surprised if we have a human landing by 2050. Current plans are for 2031 (lol) but one of Obama's policy is to cut funding for the Mars program to increase funding for education (wtf).[/b]

Assuming civilization survives, we'll go... but it might not be NASA who does it. Gwynne Dyer predicted a few years back that the first person on Mars would probably be Chinese.

In any case, I think there should be higher priorities even within the realm of space exploration. Like Spaceguard, for instance.

[ 28 June 2008: Message edited by: Agent 204 ]

martin dufresne

quote:


The Phoenix lander's first taste test of soil near Mars' north pole reveals a briny environment similar to what can be found in backyards on Earth...

But without crumpled-up potato chips bags... so far.

500_Apples

quote:


Originally posted by martin dufresne:
[b] But without crumpled-up potato chips bags... so far.[/b]

The society that ends up being built there will of course be communist and fully sustainable in its management, and as such this issues will never manifest themselves.

Of course!

500_Apples

quote:


Originally posted by Agent 204:
[b]
Assuming civilization survives, we'll go... but it might not be NASA who does it. Gwynne Dyer predicted a few years back that the first person on Mars would probably be Chinese.

In any case, I think there should be higher priorities even within the realm of space exploration. Like Spaceguard, for instance.

[ 28 June 2008: Message edited by: Agent 204 ][/b]


I just read the back contamination section in Zubrin's book, like 20 minutes ago, he argues it's nonsense because the different organisms would be adapted to different environments. He said it would be analogous to people catching lime disease and trees catching colds.

But really though I don't think it would be a huge tragedy. If life exists in two places it probably exists all over the universe, and I don't think the competition that would be imposed on martian microbes should be enough to deter us from accomplishing something that would have a profoundly transformative and positive effect on humanity.

You're very possibly right about China. I just hope to see whatever the answer is in my lifetime.

Doug

Salty? Darn. That means I'm not allowed to eat Mars.

Stephen Gordon

Never mind. Not funny enough.

[ 28 June 2008: Message edited by: Stephen Gordon ]

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Would you move to Mars permanently?

Quote:
Mars One, as the project is called, aims to bring a total of 40 astronauts to Mars between 2023 and 2033. Organizers say the astronauts will be expected to remain there permanently - "living and working on Mars the rest of their lives."

As the first humans ever to set foot on Mars, they will conduct experiments and explore it, providing "invaluable scientific and social knowledge" with those back on Earth.

Their lives will be streamed online 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"The mission to Mars will be the biggest media event ever!" according to entrepreneur Bas Landsdorp and physicist Arno Wieders, who co-founded the project.

"After all, who would be able to look away from an adventure such as this one?" Lansdorp asks on the project's website. "Who wouldn't be compelled to watch, talk about, get involved in the biggest undertaking mankind has ever made?"

 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

The first image has now been received from Curiosity on Mars.

abnormal

Boom Boom wrote:

The first image has now been received from Curiosity on Mars.

 

Now you've done it

 

abnormal

Boom Boom wrote:

The first image has now been received from Curiosity on Mars.

 

Now you've done it

 

Sven Sven's picture

Catchfire wrote:

Would you move to Mars permanently?

It would take an unusual person to leave Earth permanently. In some respects, it would be like a person sentenced to life in prison without parole. You would never again see lush, green grass or trees; oceans or lakes; snow-capped mountains; chirping birds; blue skies; thunderstorms; or any of the other natural beauties of Earth. You would never see family or friends, other than virtually through a screen. On top of that, your live human interaction would be limited to a very small number of fellow humans.

That kind of adventure may appeal to some people but it sounds positively awful to me.

6079_Smith_W

Sven wrote:
It would take an unusual person to leave Earth permanently.

There were plenty who made that decision when they decided to emigrate overseas (and plenty more who were forced to make the trip without any choice). In the early years, and for many without means, it was effectively a one-way trip. And I think the fact that it is another planet only seems different because we have the freedom to go anywhere in the world.

What we consider normal and unusual now is very different than how things have been for most of history, and still are in many parts of the world.

And really, they SAY it is one-way. But the technology is there The only reason they are saying this is because there is no room in the budget. If this is to be a real venture does anyone think that provision will stay in place for very long?

Fidel

If we can't abide by protocols for reducing GHG's, a one-way ticket to Mars might seem like a good deal to future earthlings.

You know capitalism sucks when we're considering shipping out to dead planets rather than tweaking the bad central planning here on this one.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

We've obtained a copy of a top secret photo from NASA, showing Martians waiting for the Curiosity rover to land.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

The Rover spotted this a few minutes ago:

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

sknguy II

[URL=[/URL]">http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/812/bobakferdowsk.jpg/][IMG]http://...

This is Bobak Ferdowski of JPL's Curiosity control center. A lot of reports call him the "Flight Director" for JPL's curiosity mission. But I don't think he was the Flight Director. I think he's actually an "on-planet" coordinator/director for the curiosity's activities. But I could be mistaken. I think this Keith Comeaux was actually the flight director. In any event, so much for white shirts and pocket protectors. Postmodernity, or a fresh face for imperialism? Smile

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I miss pocket protectors.