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Martians no more
December 21, 2005 10:56 PM   Subscribe

Life on Mars is looking less likely. Two new papers published today in Nature argue that vulcanism and meteors, rather than standing water, are a better explanation for the results found by the Opportunity Rover, despite previous excited announcements by NASA in 2004.
posted by blahblahblah (13 comments total)

 
I'm not sure that "less likely" is the best interpretation here. This isn't exactly a disproving of what has been hypothesized; it's an alternate interpretation by a separate group of scientists, who probably never considered the water scenario likely. At this point, they seem to be in a minority, and they'll need to push forward testable hypotheses, which perhaps can be investigated on future missions.

Basically, there is a "wet Mars" and a "dry Mars" camp, and there's no consensus yet. NASA is pretty sharply moving towared the wet Mars position. That means that wet Mars eggheads get more government funding, which may tend to influence the results on both sides.

Personally, I still think the dry Mars people are all wet. ;-)
posted by dhartung at 1:07 AM on December 22, 2005


i read recently that any standing water on mars would have been far too acidic to support life anyway...sigh...
posted by sexyrobot at 2:15 AM on December 22, 2005


There are some input from the builders of the "Mars express" here.
posted by Catfry at 3:16 AM on December 22, 2005


No life on Mars then, maybe here ? (newsfilter)

" NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has discovered some of life's most basic ingredients in the dust swirling around a young star. The ingredients - gaseous precursors to DNA and protein - were detected in the star's terrestrial planet zone, a region where rocky planets such as Earth are thought to be born."
posted by kudzu at 3:21 AM on December 22, 2005


"i read recently that any standing water on mars would have been far too acidic to support life anyway...sigh..."

Bah, you got your vinegar worms that can live in vinegar which has a ph around 2-3. And that's what I can think of off the top of my head. Nature is way too much of a bitch to let a little acid water slow her down.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 4:48 AM on December 22, 2005


I'm sure the Martians, when they came here, decided that a toxic oxygen environment -- look at what it does to a segmented apple after only a few seconds! -- could not possibly support life.
posted by maxsparber at 7:05 AM on December 22, 2005


Is there still anyone at all (and I mean actual, respectable scientists) who insists that there is no, and never has been, life of any nature on any planet other than this one? There may not have been anything crawling around on Mars, and that will disappoint me, but I'm positive that there is or has been something else out there, and I hope we'll find conclusive proof of it in my lifetime.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:51 AM on December 22, 2005


I hope we'll find conclusive proof of it in my lifetime.

Don't forget that time is just as expansive as space.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:25 AM on December 22, 2005


Is there still anyone at all (and I mean actual, respectable scientists) who insists that there is no, and never has been, life of any nature on any planet other than this one?

"insists"? Not that I know of.

And anyway, the only proof can be posititve proof (i.e. we found something) There is certanly no way to prove that life didn't emerge somewhere else in your lifetime.
posted by delmoi at 9:20 AM on December 22, 2005


I am the Martian microbe!
posted by washburn at 10:25 AM on December 22, 2005


I, for one, welcome our old existential aloneness in the universe.
posted by whir at 12:58 PM on December 22, 2005


Of course there's life on mars
posted by kryptondog at 5:45 PM on December 22, 2005


Well I'd argue that some liquid would be necessary for life, I doubt that only water would work.
posted by jeblis at 2:16 AM on December 23, 2005


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