Author Topic: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.  (Read 10884 times)

Offline aero

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What if we found a variety of fossilized bones of large and small life forms on Mars? Would we study them or decide they proved that microbial life must still exist somewhere on or in Mars, and ban further investigation?

Or would we decide that dominant life forms were extinct therefore Mars is a dead world available to us for the taking?
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Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #1 on: 06/23/2012 02:18 pm »
If we found that evidence, then we should build that orbiting, manned ring station that I keep on talking about, and get cracking on determining its current status, living or dead, and whether or not it represented a second genesis, all to be done by unmanned, extremely sterile, surface rovers.

But that can't be planned until after that "solid, indisputable" evidence is found.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline aero

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #2 on: 06/23/2012 02:35 pm »
Maybe that's what we should do, I don't think it's what would happen.

I think that indisputable evidence of past life on Mars would prove to the satisfaction of many, that Mars could be revived to a living world at some level of "living." Unless we put a large policing force in place (not at all likely, IMO), some would try to go. Others would want to find and sell real, authentic Mars fossils to collectors, while others would sell fake Mars fossils to the gullible. But Mars would be overrun in the end.
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Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #3 on: 06/24/2012 01:53 pm »
Maybe that's what we should do, I don't think it's what would happen.

I initially took your remark at face value, considering our current political environment, and found myself agreeing in principle, but with a different take on the subsequent actions.

Maybe that's what we should do, I don't think it's what would happen, because our government, assuming a continuation of its apparent dysfunction, will not be likely to come to an agreement for the best way forward, should some marsosaur bone be found.

Your tentative vision of the future could come to pass, I suppose, but you don't have to worry that Mars will be overrun by people anytime soon.  For there to be any mass exodus with chemical rocketry from here to there, even granting the proper construction of rockets and habitats and so forth, there would have to be a pretty powerful world government here first.  It would have to be almost pharoanic (sp?) in its capability to organize the population, by compulsion, no doubt, to embark on such a project.

Backing up to my contention about our dysfunctional government not finding a way forward in the event you postulate.  There is a culture clash here between the scientificists and some religionists.  The political tension between these two vocal groups would have to be somehow resolved before our government could create a forward policy in the first place.

That's about all I'll speculate on.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline aero

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #4 on: 06/24/2012 03:13 pm »
Maybe that's what we should do, I don't think it's what would happen.

I initially took your remark at face value, considering our current political
... ...
Your tentative vision of the future could come to pass, I suppose, but you don't have to worry that Mars will be overrun by people anytime soon.
...
That's about all I'll speculate on.

Yes, over run is far to strong. It will amount to a few, a few dozen or many more, depending on the time frame you consider. But it will be a large enough number of people to thoroughly contaminate the natural Mars environment. JMO
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Offline Dalhousie

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #5 on: 06/24/2012 09:41 pm »
Why would such a discovery led to a banning of further investigations?
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #6 on: 06/25/2012 11:28 am »
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If life was discovered in fossilized form, the morphology would then be associated to 'something' on Earth. 

Why would the morphology be "associated with "something" on Earth?

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The coupling with Earth native creatures would be established and every sample of that Earth creature would be tested until its extinction in 100 years.

What does "coupling" mean in this context?

Why would Earth creatures be "tested to extinction"


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Then, somebody is going to have to explain how that creature evolved in such a rapid way in a Pre-Noahcian era on Mars.

Why would martian fossils have to be "pre-Noachian"?

Where on Mars would we find even "pre-Noachian" rocks?

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During this time frame, nothing is known to have existed on Earth in microbial form.

We don't know when life appeared on Earth, only that it appeared prior to 3.4 Ga and after 4.5 Ga

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So it would be a substantial blow to the theory of evolution.

How would finding fossils on Mars of any age be a "blow to the theory of evolution"?

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The origin would be the next topic to determine, which I would claim could only be substantiated using a time machine.

We don't need a time machine to study the history of life on Earth, why would we need one on Mars?
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #7 on: 06/25/2012 11:37 am »
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Those people from the TV show Ancient Aliens will be dancing in the streets telling everyone 'I told you so'. 

Who cares what the lunatic fringe thinks?

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Unfortunately I fear that if something is found that is microbial and living, this would become the next biggest thing in military research.  Mars would be owned by the military/united nations in 5 years maximum.

Why would they do this?

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I think there are more important things to research under NASA in the trans nepunian domain.

What do you think exists in transneptuanian space that is more important to research than a planet which is much closer and more accessible, has a history in many ways similar to ours, is also one that can, with current levels of technology, be explored by astronauts, and is relevant to a vast range of scientific disciplines?

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If there ever is a Mars mission.  That would be the last.

There ave been dozens of Mars missions?  Why should another one be the last?

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This manned ring station is about as close as well potentially see in our lifetime.  Don't think going to the surface is a wise idea.

Most people to have studied the idea disagree.
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #8 on: 06/25/2012 01:24 pm »
I think this is a hot topic.   :P

1) If life was discovered in fossilized form, the morphology would then be associated to 'something' on Earth.  2) The coupling with Earth native creatures would be established and every sample of that Earth creature would be tested until its extinction in 100 years.

3) Then, somebody is going to have to explain how that creature evolved in such a rapid way in a Pre-Noahcian era on Mars.  During this time frame, nothing is known to have existed on Earth in microbial form. So it would be a substantial blow to the theory of evolution.  The origin would be the next topic to determine, which I would claim could only be substantiated using a time machine.

4) Those people from the TV show Ancient Aliens will be dancing in the streets telling everyone 'I told you so'. 

5) Unfortunately I fear that if something is found that is microbial and living, this would become the next biggest thing in military research.  Mars would be owned by the military/united nations in 5 years maximum.

6) I think there are more important things to research under NASA in the trans nepunian [gotta be neptunian, right?] domain. If there ever is a Mars mission.  That would be the last.

7) This manned ring station is about as close as well potentially see in our lifetime.  Don't think going to the surface is a wise idea.

Not a bad few observations there.

1) If there should be found an undiputable organic macroscale fossil, the rest of the skeleton will probably be nearby.  It will certainly, as you suggest, be compared with our own fossils; what else could it be compared with?

2) This, however, doesn't make much sense without further clarification.

3) Bingo.  We don't have a mechanism for hypothesizing the "origin of the species" down here.  There would be an outburst of study on this issue.  The chances seem very low, based on what we've seen so far.  The planet has been only cursorily explored, and NASA seems bored, suggesting that we should, in pragmatic effect, forget about Mars, and go perform a superficial search of Europa.

4) I agree that these people will start acting out insufferably.

5) CHM and all that.

6) Again, why should NASA design a superficial exploration mission to a more distant locale, leaving the nearby one, Mars in this example, incompletely surveyed?

7) Thank you. 

NASA is not going about exploration in a thorough fashion.  Nor is it attempting to solve the problem of a permanent human presence in space in a way that would include people in general.  NASA should be opening up the new frontier, kickstarting a new economy, and enabling private individuals the opportunities that have only been granted to a few.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline IRobot

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #9 on: 06/25/2012 02:01 pm »
I think religious movements would try to block any further exploration.

The catholic church has no problem with that. It supports the evolution and the big bang theories, for example.
But most Protestant, Muslim, Jewish leaders would have a hard time coping with it.

Online Chris Bergin

Oh no, not one of these threads! :o

The only religious references I want to see on this site is "God Speed".

Offline brihath

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #11 on: 06/25/2012 02:23 pm »
If evidence of life Mars were discovered, I would be surprised to see some kind of "global epiphany" as a result.  Sure, there will be an OMG moment, but I would view it in the context of other major changes in the world, such as the discovery of nuclear fission, the discovery of extra solar planets, or the coding of complete DNA sequences.  For the great majority, it will be but one more big news item that gets everybody's attention for a few days.

The reaction that is most important is that of the scientific community and how further investigations will be carried out to further characterize the evidence and draw conclusions from it.  Governments will have to determine how to fund further investigations and carry them out without contaminating the Martian surface with our own micro-organisms.

As far as the philosophical or religious implications of that discovery, well, I'll leave that to the philosophers and theologians.  They have dealt with big changes in the past and will adapt to future changes, too...whatever they may be. 

Offline Apollo-phill

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #12 on: 06/25/2012 02:28 pm »
What if we found a variety of fossilized bones of large and small life forms on Mars? Would we study them or decide they proved that microbial life must still exist somewhere on or in Mars, and ban further investigation?

Or would we decide that dominant life forms were extinct therefore Mars is a dead world available to us for the taking?

You mean something like this shown in this oil on canvas painting I commissioned some years ago now ! [original in colour]

Image NOT to be reproduced anywhere without my permission (usually granted).

Phill Parker

Online Chris Bergin

Wow, that's nice, Phill!

Offline Apollo-phill

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #14 on: 06/25/2012 07:25 pm »
Wow, that's nice, Phill!

Thanks Chris for those remarks.

I produced the original idea and pencil sketch (more like a doodle since I'm no artist - just ideas man !!) from which my space artist friend Andy would do a "rough" sketch. After several "tweeks" by me, I would give Andy go ahead to produce final oil on canvas in colour.

Andy has a heritadary genetic disease and because of it he has recently had to give up on using real paintbrushes and canvas. Now he has moved to producing digital art work using his computer.

I commissioned over 150 space artwork from him over a 20 year period .

Some of these have been on display at spaceflight exhibitions I have done  in UK over the years.

Topics covered include early re-useable project ideas (MUSTARD,Astron)
some Saturn V rocket paintings, Apollo subjects (like LM landing, computer systems), Gemini, Russian programs (MIR,Luna 9 ,manned lunar lander,etc) ,Moon bases, Mars bases and Mars terraforming. Other paintings go 'further out' to Jupiter and even the stars !

If someone in UK can come up with a suitable venue (museum, city hall) I would be willing to display some of the best space canvases for enjoyment.

Just email me !


Phill





Offline cosmicvoid

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #15 on: 06/26/2012 07:35 am »
... Trans nepunian research is providing ACTUAL evidence for a potential discovery.
This sounds like a lot of armwaving. What actual evidence are you referring to?
Infiinity or bust.

Offline IRobot

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #16 on: 06/26/2012 10:20 am »
Well to me, if you can show that a life form was capable of evolving almost one to five orders of magnitude faster than what may have happened on Earth.... you have a problem.  Because if one species has gained full technological capabilities several millions of years earlier than the other... you cannot simply argue away intelligent design.
Sure, intelligent design made by aliens with lots of tentacles.

Superior technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #17 on: 06/26/2012 10:29 am »
Why would such a discovery led to a banning of further investigations?
Dalhousie...
You must read the techinque called the five whys by Toyoda.  It not only answers some of the problem, but also provides a solution.  Here is a Wikipedia link in a language that you can more easily understand:

 http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/5_Why's

Nice summary but I lecture on this stuff frequently.

You still haven’t answered the question:

Why would such a discovery led to a banning of further investigations?

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Now.  What evidence in the universe would be a blow to the 'theory' of evolution.  Apparently most of the evolutionists believe their theory is absolute.  All evidence must is held guilty until proven innocent.  Pretty much like a Klingon court of law.

Science is not determined by courts “Klingon” or otherwise, but by evidence.

We have overwhelming evidence for the fact of organic evolution on Earth, although the details are constantly being revised with better knowledge.  Whether life (if there is any) elsewhere would evolve in the same way or at the same rate, we don’t know.

There is nothing absolute about evolution.   

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Well to me, if you can show that a life form was capable of evolving almost one to five orders of magnitude faster than what may have happened on Earth.... you have a problem. 

We don’t know whether the rates we see on Earth are universal or contingent.  Such a discovery would be interesting and important, not a problem.

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Because if one species has gained full technological capabilities several millions of years earlier than the other... you cannot simply argue away intelligent design.

Suddenly you have introduced “full technological capabilities”.  This is a red herring.  Nobody has talked about technological remains on Mars in this thread.  The OP says:

What if we found a variety of fossilized bones of large and small life forms on Mars? Would we study them or decide they proved that microbial life must still exist somewhere on or in Mars, and ban further investigation?

No technology, only fossils.  You are trying to derail the discussion into irrelevancies and pure cloud cuckoo land.

“Intelligent design”?  Did you miss Chris’s direct about not having religious discussions?

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Trans nepunian research is providing ACTUAL evidence for a potential discovery.  The search for life on Mars is only a 'snipe' hunt.  Actual evidence trumps wishful thinking everytime (except when you are being tried in a Klingon court).

“Trans Neptunian research” has not the topic of this thread, another attempt to derail the discussion.  Please keep to the point.  If you want to discussion something beyond Neptune start your own thread.  But not here, not in this part of the forum.  Not that you have provided the slightest evidence to support you claims of “actual evidence”, despite being asked to.
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #18 on: 06/26/2012 02:46 pm »
If evidence of life Mars were discovered ... there will be an OMG moment...

The tweeters will overpower the servers at the twitters.  The resulting power surge will take out the googols.  As the googols collapse, the banking sytem will get overrun by people making electronic inquiries, triggering a run on the banks.  As the people run, they will cause the Earth to vibrate at a "special frequency" causing widespread earthquakes.  Locusts will crawl out from their subterranean habitats... 

It will just be an awful mess...

...this oil on canvas painting ...

This may come as no surprise to some, but...

I don't get it.   Izzat supposed to be Archeopteryx?
« Last Edit: 06/26/2012 02:47 pm by JohnFornaro »
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #19 on: 06/27/2012 04:08 am »
... Trans nepunian research is providing ACTUAL evidence for a potential discovery.
This sounds like a lot of armwaving. What actual evidence are you referring to?
Just hit TNO or trans neptunian object into Google News.  Here is what I got that was hot off the press as of eight hours ago:

http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2012/06261021-salacia.html

A month ago, a presentation was given about orbital variations of Sedna.  The conclusion was something bigger than Earth past our solar system.  Will find that link later....

TNOs are much more difficult targets to explore than Mars.  We are only just at the flyby stage of exploration, on a time scale of decades.  And you think we should stop exploring Mars which is closer, more diverse, more accessible, more interesting and well within our capabilities to explore using rovers, relatively deep drills, sample return missions, and with crewed missions because....?

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So to the thread. 

There hasn't been even a hint of life, habitability or the actual discovery of accessible resources such as water on Mars since we've landed in 1976. 

Where were you when MGS mapped recent gullies formed by flowing water and MRO imaged show ice in mid latitudes and documented gully flows and water striae?  Or the rock glaciers imaged by both?  When Mars Express and several ground-based telescopes discovered localised and secularly variable methane?  The joint hyperspectral data from MRO and Mars Express regarding widespread clays? When Phoenix imaged shallow ice and brine droplets and discovered perchlorates?  Or the Opportunity when it imaged water-laid deposits and evidence of complex water-based diagenesis?  Spirit, when it discovered hydrothermal silica? Did you miss Mars Odyssey finding widespread shallow ice in both hemispheres?

Abundant evidence on habitability (ice, liquid water, perchlorates, methane) and resources for human use (methane, ice), possible indirect evidence for life (the methane).

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This would be like saying.... We need to go find a pink elephant in the zoo.  Has anyone seen the pink elephant?  No, but we're going to keep looking because that is 'science'.

I suggest you research a bit more before making such statements.

"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #20 on: 06/27/2012 01:46 pm »
Quote from: Mr. Scott
Trans Neptunian research is providing ACTUAL evidence for a potential discovery.  The search for life on Mars is only a 'snipe' hunt.  Actual evidence trumps wishful thinking everytime (except when you are being tried in a Klingon court).

Interesting sidetrack about TNO's.

From the abstract linked by Emily Lakdawalla, in the link provided by Mr. Scott:

http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2012Icar..219..676S

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The ensemble of binary-TNO densities suggests a trend of increasing density with size, with objects smaller than 400 km diameter all having densities less than 1 g/cm3, and those with diameters greater than 800 km all having densities greater than 1 g/cm3. If the eccentricity of the binary orbit of (42355) Typhon-Echidna is not due to recent perturbations, considerations of tidal evolution suggest that (42355) Typhon-Echidna must have a rigidity close to that of solid water ice, otherwise the orbital eccentricity of the system would have been damped by now.

Good to have confirmation of my general feeling that the bigger they are, the denser they will be.  Sometimes common sense understanding of physical properties and planetary formation theories is actually confirmed by observation.  Just sayin'.

Then on to Sedna:

http://www.ucs.louisiana.edu/~dpw9254/Sedna_like.pdf

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Abstract. Sedna is the first inner Oort cloud object to be discovered. Its dynamical origin remains unclear, and a possible mechanism is considered here. We investigate the parameter space of a hypothetical solar companion which could adiabatically detach the perihelion of a Neptune dominated TNO with a Sedna-like semimajor axis. Demanding that the TNO's
maximum value of osculating perihelion exceed Sedna's observed value of 76 AU, we fnd that the companion's mass and orbital parameters ... are restricted to [a huge equation]
during the epoch of strongest perturbations. The ecliptic inclination of the companion should be in the range 45o <= 135o if the TNO is to retain a small inclination while its perihelion is increased. We also consider the circumstances where the minimum value of osculating perihelion would pass the object to the dynamical dominance of Saturn and Jupiter, if allowed. ...

If the same hypothetical object is responsible for both observations, then it is likely recorded in the IRAS and possibly the 2MASS databases. ...

The only options which they find to give satisfactory results are the passage of a low-velocity solar-mass star at about 800 AU during the early solar environment, or the capture of extrasolar planetesimals from a low-mass star or brown dwarf encountering the Sun.  They observe that creating these "extended scattered disk objects" ... requires a perturbation "from the outside", but do not discuss the possibility that the external perturbation could come from a planetary-mass wide-binary solar companion. We consider that option here. Our goal is to limit the possible parameter space of a hypothetical solar companion which would be capable of detaching the orbit of an STNO from the dominance of Neptune. We further compare it to the parameter space of a hypothetical companion that has previously been suggested by an analysis of an overpopulated band of new Oort cloud comets with an anomalous distribution of orbital elements ...

They could make a more user friendly abstract, but hey, so can I.  Sedna has a wild orbit of "with a semimajor axis of a = 489 AU", and an orbital inclination which cannot be explained by the gravitational attraction of Neptune.  So they explore the 3D space where some massive object could be, which would explain Sedna's orbit.  The think that "If the same hypothetical object is responsible for both observations, then it is likely recorded in the IRAS and possibly the 2MASS databases."

So all of this is interesting to me, even if slightly off topic.  Always good to learn something new.  Thanks for posting.

But, if ya don't mind my askin', What was the point of that comment? 

"Trans Neptunian research is providing ACTUAL evidence for a potential discovery."  Of life?  I certainly don't mind sidetracks, but this one is pretty far off base in this thread.

From that article on 5 Whys in the oracle:

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A key phrase to keep in mind in any 5 Why exercise is "people do not fail, processes do".

Unfortunately, people do fail. This premise is incorrect.

Quote from: Mr. Scott
This would be like saying.... We need to go find a pink elephant in the zoo.  Has anyone seen the pink elephant?  No, but we're going to keep looking because that is 'science'.

In a way, your analogy here comes dangerously close to being correct when compared to NASA's mission prioritization.  We're not finished looking at Mars.  There is no justification whatsoever to move on to Europa, looking for the "pink elephant" of life.
« Last Edit: 06/27/2012 01:47 pm by JohnFornaro »
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #21 on: 06/28/2012 01:37 am »

To me the TNO folks are bringing the results.  Mars exploration programs haven't found anything.  Ok perchlorates, so what.  Nobody really thinks that this can be used as a precursor to fertilizer to grow crops on Mars.

What results?  The discovery of a few small icy bodies at we can only just send flyby missions to, and only then after many years in transit for a few hours of data?  They are interesting in an abstract sense, sure.  But why are these so important?  I have asked you several times to answer this question, and you have avoided it every time.

Perchlorate is not useful as fertilizer, however it is important as a potential energy source for microbes, so directly relevant to the habitability of Mars.  It is explains the difficulty in detecting organic matter on Mars by previous missions relying on mass spectroscopy by thermal decomposition, so very important to understanding results of previous missions and designing future ones.

You conveniently ignore the abundant evidence for water on Mars that has been discovered in the last 25 years.

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Think of all this like the way we think of the Viking explorers who arrived before Columbus.  They came to the Northern American region, found a few rocks, arrived upon a glistening lfresh water ake that was inland somewhere.  The Viking captain probably found a tree that was good for fuel. 

So when the news was brought back to their scandanavian home... NOBODY COULD GIVE A RATS DOODALIEFOO WHAT THEY FOUND!  The trip was probably worth telling for no more that two to five years.

Hundreds of people travelled to North America over a period of several hundred years. The reality is however that routine travel and settlement of North America was beyond their social, economic, and technological ability, especially as the climate deteriorated.

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500 years from now people will talk about disoveries out past Sedna/Neptune.

Untestable questions about the far future are just rhetoric.

Why will they be talking about them?  What is so important about “disoveries out past Sedna/Neptune”

Why are they more important than exploring Mars which is much easier and more interesting in just about every way?


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I kind of have a hunch that 500 years from now, people will likely not remember or care that we went to the Moon or Mars as much as we did.  I'd believe Armstrong and Aldrin will be remembered.  Most of the Mars missions will be completely forgotten even if there is a microbe found.

Again you assumption that only the discovery of life is important.  What drives this assumption?

Since there is microbes on TNOs are unlikely in the extreme, why do you think they are more interesting?
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #22 on: 06/28/2012 11:55 am »
Quote
But, if ya don't mind my askin', What was the point of that comment?

To me the TNO folks are bringing the results.

What results?  They're not looking for life, they're looking for a twomass honkin' object out past Neptune.  Interesting, but:

Start a thread on TNO's.

Again you assumption that only the discovery of life is important.

I don't quite understand why you don't assumption that the discovery of life is important.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline rfoshaug

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #23 on: 06/28/2012 12:42 pm »
The discovery of life on Mars (microbial or fossils of ancient larger life forms) would be scientifically important and exciting. I can't imagine larger life forms than microbes existing there today.

I believe such a discovery would have two main effects on the exploration of Mars:

1: Robotic exploration would increase a lot to learn more of these life forms

2: If current microbial life exists on Mars, this would probably have a negative impact on any plans for human exploration, due to fears of infections and diseases that these microbes could do to the human organism. Of course the trip back home to Earth would give the crew a natural quarantine, but would that be enough?


As for the importance of such a discovery, it wouldn't be that great - if life on Mars and Earth had a common origin and one planet had "contaminated" the other with meteor strikes. In that case, it would mean nothing for the big "has life evolved elsewhere" debate.

EDIT: Still though, it would be of significant scientific interest of course to see how life had evolved separated from Earth.
« Last Edit: 06/28/2012 12:43 pm by rfoshaug »

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #24 on: 06/28/2012 09:20 pm »
Again you assumption that only the discovery of life is important.

I don't quite understand why you don't assumption that the discovery of life is important.


This makes no obvious sense.

Are you saying I don't think that the discovery of life is important?  Because I certainly would think it a very important discovery.
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #25 on: 06/29/2012 03:12 am »
Again you assumption that only the discovery of life is important.

I don't quite understand why you don't assumption that the discovery of life is important.


This makes no obvious sense.

Are you saying I don't think that the discovery of life is important?  Because I certainly would think it a very important discovery.
Here is my final $1.50 for this thread.  The discovery of microbial life IS NOT IMPORTANT of Mars and here's why....

I'll give you a pass here for the moment.  MSL does everything perfect.  It lands, it rolls around and discovers everything it was supposed to and more for a mere $2.5 billion.

Now, you then have to start characterizing how the microbes continue to live and grow. 

So take whatever statement is discovered and stand on the corner on main street in your home town and just yell it out at the top of your lungs. 

Ok here you go, so you should say... "AFTER 37 YEARS, I JUST DISCOVERED MICROBIAL LIFE ON MARS AND IT CONTINUES TO GROW THROUGH SELF REPLICATION AND ASEXUAL REPRODUCTION, AND IT ONLY COST US FIVE BILLION TO FIGURE IT OUT"

Under normal situations, most people would just think your nuts and keep walking.

People did this when we landed on the moon... Certainly that was news to be yelled out.

Since when have the opinions of people in the street determined what is important?
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #26 on: 06/29/2012 01:02 pm »
Again you assumption that only the discovery of life is important.

I don't quite understand why you don't assumption that the discovery of life is important.

This makes no obvious sense.

Are you saying I don't think that the discovery of life is important?  Because I certainly would think it a very important discovery.

Well good.  I have stated several times here on the forum the high level of importance that I would attribute to the discovery of life on another planet.                               
However, it was you who said that I "assumption that only the discovery of life is important".  I have not deviated from my voiced opinion that the discovery of life is of high importance.  The word "high" is not the equivalent of the word "only".

You seem to be arguing for the sake of argument, and the evidence for that is the word substitution you just made.

"AFTER 37 YEARS, I JUST DISCOVERED MICROBIAL LIFE ON MARS AND IT CONTINUES TO GROW THROUGH SELF REPLICATION AND ASEXUAL REPRODUCTION, AND IT ONLY COST US FIVE BILLION TO FIGURE IT OUT"

First, a rhetorical quibble that you doubled the price from $2.5B to $5B.

You may be correct in your supposition that the American people don't care all that much about that discovery.  Obviously, we are a nominal democratic republic, so "opinions of people in the street", determine the importance of our government's policy decisions.

Public opinion would be vastly different were a marsosaur bone be found, and might boost funding levels for further exploration, as well as revamp NASA's mission prioritization.  but none of that could be predicted, and cannot form a basis for current policy.  Ya gotta wait and see what Curiosity discovers.

I think it is self evident that such a large scale macroscopic fossil would be far more popular and interesting than grainy photomicrographs of a fossilized marscilla.  The literalitudinists amongst us may insist, on the basis of some rarified technical specification, that there would be no difference in the scientific importance of the two hypothetical discoveries, but that wouldn't really matter.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline IRobot

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #27 on: 06/29/2012 01:08 pm »
Ok here you go, so you should say... "AFTER 37 YEARS, I JUST DISCOVERED MICROBIAL LIFE ON MARS AND IT CONTINUES TO GROW THROUGH SELF REPLICATION AND ASEXUAL REPRODUCTION, AND IT ONLY COST US FIVE BILLION TO FIGURE IT OUT"
I would say: "After 10.000 years of civilization, we have realized that Earth is not the center of the universe, that life can spawn elsewhere and that most religious simple explanations to the creation of the world are just fiction created for simple minds."
I think it is worth $5B.

Offline Rhymour

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #28 on: 06/29/2012 05:56 pm »
Ok here you go, so you should say... "AFTER 37 YEARS, I JUST DISCOVERED MICROBIAL LIFE ON MARS AND IT CONTINUES TO GROW THROUGH SELF REPLICATION AND ASEXUAL REPRODUCTION, AND IT ONLY COST US FIVE BILLION TO FIGURE IT OUT"
I would say: "After 10.000 years of civilization, we have realized that Earth is not the center of the universe, that life can spawn elsewhere and that most religious simple explanations to the creation of the world are just fiction created for simple minds."
I think it is worth $5B.
Unless Martian bacteria are immortal (except for geological death) and prove panspermia by immortal aliens.

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #29 on: 06/29/2012 09:32 pm »

Well good.  I have stated several times here on the forum the high level of importance that I would attribute to the discovery of life on another planet.                               
However, it was you who said that I "assumption that only the discovery of life is important".  I have not deviated from my voiced opinion that the discovery of life is of high importance.  The word "high" is not the equivalent of the word "only".

Which is why I asked you to clarify your statement.

Quote
You seem to be arguing for the sake of argument, and the evidence for that is the word substitution you just made.

For the third time, I don’t play such games.   I am here to contribute and to learn. 
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #30 on: 06/29/2012 09:33 pm »
I would say: "After 10.000 years of civilization, we have realized that Earth is not the center of the universe, that life can spawn elsewhere and that most religious simple explanations to the creation of the world are just fiction created for simple minds."
I think it is worth $5B.

I can't think of any discovery likely to Mars that could led to that conclusion.
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Avron

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #31 on: 06/29/2012 09:59 pm »
Talking of billions..

I will buy you all a round, if life is found on Mars..  none the less, its an amazing adventure looking..

What are the odds? 

Offline IRobot

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #32 on: 06/30/2012 08:02 pm »

No if you look at the Drake Equation (see post below), which is an agnostic analysis, my conclusion is that life on Earth was truly way beyond luck. 

In most business case analyses, if you took the amount of money it takes to accomplish an objective and a reasonable estimate at the probability to succeed at one trial... you get an expected cost to succeed.  $5B / 8x10^-20 = crazy!
Funny, some people use Drake's equation to say there is life out there for sure. Others, like you, use it to say there isn't.

I'm not defending an agnostic/gnostic position, all I am saying is that discovering life outside earth has some serious theological consequences, just as when the Europeans found populations in america that did not fit the "12 tribes of Israel" theory.

Offline QuantumG

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #33 on: 06/30/2012 11:50 pm »
http://xkcd.com/384/

Seems relevant.
Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline mduncan36

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #34 on: 06/30/2012 11:59 pm »
My very brief and specific answer to this question -  I believe it would have more influence on the search for life elsewhere because now we would know it is possible. SETI and similar efforts could no longer be as easily discounted as a waste of effort. This would be especially true if the Martian "life" was determined to have a different origin than that of Earth. If it could happen at least twice in the same solar system then I believe it would say a lot about what else may be out there.

Offline IRobot

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Re: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.
« Reply #35 on: 07/01/2012 03:02 am »
The evidence I look at... In 2010, a large boat was found with crocodile remains on top of a mountain at an elevation of 4000m in Turkey.  Carbon dating is at 4800 years.  How do mountain climbing crocodiles get accounted for in the theory of evolution?
Perhaps I'm thinking too simplistcally?
So you are saying that one of the two crocodiles died in the arc? That doesn't sound good. First, they shouldn't be there in the first place because... they can swim. Then, if one died, how come we got crocodiles today?
So you admit using carbon dating for the ark, but not for 100.000 years old stuff? You can't use science just when it fits your ideas!
So how do you explain that the same carbon dating was used to date through the entire Egyptian civilization, which started well before 4800 years ago and lasted up to 2000 years ago and no disruption is seen? Mummies are well preserved because there was no moisture... ahhh, I could do this all day, but let's get back to topic.

Personally I think life won't be found on Mars. But the topic is: "if we found...".
I don't think there would be economical consequences, so all that is left are questions about where we come from and what else is out there.
It would also raise awareness to how fragile a planet can be. It would probable give a boost for asteroid hunting, ecology and 100 more Chuck Norris jokes.

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