Author Topic: IF we found solid, indisputable evidence of life on Mars.  (Read 10886 times)

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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