Author Topic: What happens to space travel if it is proven that there never was life on Mars?  (Read 52895 times)

Offline beb

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I saw this headline on Yahoo this morning
"Ancient Mars Had Component Key to Life, Meteorite Reveals"
and it make me wonder how much of current efforts to sent humans to Mars hinges on the hope of finding life there. So what happens to space travel if it is conclusively proven that life never existed on Mars. Will people continue to be interested in space, manned space travel or visiting other planets? Or the majority of people say that since there is nothing there, there is no reason to ever go there?

Offline rtphokie

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I saw this headline on Yahoo this morning
"Ancient Mars Had Component Key to Life, Meteorite Reveals"
and it make me wonder how much of current efforts to sent humans to Mars hinges on the hope of finding life there. So what happens to space travel if it is conclusively proven that life never existed on Mars. Will people continue to be interested in space, manned space travel or visiting other planets? Or the majority of people say that since there is nothing there, there is no reason to ever go there?

On to Titan or Europa. 

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You can't prove the negative.

But if the probabilities start to get "vanishingly small" I will feel better about eventual terraforming.

I confess, though, to me, this all is a side issue... just like exoplanets. There is in-space infrastructure to build and launch costs to be reduced. Much more important stuff to work on.

Life is for sensationalists. :)
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Offline Star One

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You can't prove the negative.

But if the probabilities start to get "vanishingly small" I will feel better about eventual terraforming.

I confess, though, to me, this all is a side issue... just like exoplanets. There is in-space infrastructure to build and launch costs to be reduced. Much more important stuff to work on.

Life is for sensationalists. :)

Looking for life is one of the primary reasons for people involving themselves in space & astronomy I suspect. You can bet if asked the ordinary person on the street why we should explore space is far more likely to give the answer looking for other life than not caring a fig for stuff such as in-space infrastructure & reducing launch costs. Such a hyper-practical approach motivates very few. 
« Last Edit: 06/12/2013 07:08 PM by Star One »

Offline SpacexULA

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Looking for life is one of the primary reasons for people involving themselves in space & astronomy I suspect. You can bet if asked the ordinary person on the street why we should explore space is far more likely to give the answer looking for other life than not caring a fig for stuff such as in-space infrastructure & reducing launch costs. Such a hyper-practical approach motivates very few. 

True, but those are the things that allow all the wishy washy good feelings about wanting to turn into real progress.

It was those boring advances in maritime technologies in the late 1300s-1400s that allowed true sea exploration.

This forum is dedicated to the people who love to watch the space technology forged in the early 1900s mature to a point where we can get out of the Leaf Erickson mode and get into the East India Company mode.
« Last Edit: 06/12/2013 07:31 PM by SpacexULA »
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Offline ChrisWilson68

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You can't prove the negative.

But if the probabilities start to get "vanishingly small" I will feel better about eventual terraforming.

I confess, though, to me, this all is a side issue... just like exoplanets. There is in-space infrastructure to build and launch costs to be reduced. Much more important stuff to work on.

Life is for sensationalists. :)

Looking for life is one of the primary reasons for people involving themselves in space & astronomy I suspect. You can bet if asked the ordinary person on the street why we should explore space is far more likely to give the answer looking for other life than not caring a fig for stuff such as in-space infrastructure & reducing launch costs. Such a hyper-practical approach motivates very few. 

That's just guesswork on your part about what most people care about.

My own guess is that most people are far more interested in having humanity move into space than in whether or not there were once microbes on Mars.

How many movies depict a future where people live in travel in space?  In how many movies is it mentioned whether or not microbes once lived on Mars.

Offline LegendCJS

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You can't prove the negative.

But if the probabilities start to get "vanishingly small" I will feel better about eventual terraforming.

I confess, though, to me, this all is a side issue... just like exoplanets. There is in-space infrastructure to build and launch costs to be reduced. Much more important stuff to work on.

Life is for sensationalists. :)

Technically you can't prove this, but to even give it a serious try already requires significant advancements in interplanetary travel, with multiple scientific and expeditionary outposts all over Mars, and decades of through exploration in every nook and cranny of that planet.  I'd say space travel would already be in pretty good shape by the point that the scientific community agreed that there was never life on Mars, if this ever happened.
Remember: if we want this whole space thing to work out we have to optimize for cost!

Offline savuporo

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If it could be conclusively shown that the likelyhood of life ever existing on Mars is vanishingly small, it would get planetary protectionists out of the way, and we could get on with development, industrialization and eventually colonization of the place.
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Offline enkarha

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Reducing launch costs and building infrastructure isn't an end in itself, though. You have to have a reason for going to space, and an important one of those, besides mining and just because it's so cool, is science, which includes the search for extraterrestrial life. I think that having the confidence to say that there's a very small chance that there's life on Mars means that there's already been huge money and time investment in the planet, maybe to the mass-colonization level.

And even if we somehow know before we dig deep, no, people probably won't stop caring. In the attached survey (summary), on pg 3 there's the various reasons people see as the strongest for putting humans on Mars. Searching for life is about 24%. Though I think the survey as a whole pretty fraught with bias,  that number I think is fairly indicative that exobio isn't the end all be all of space exploration.
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Offline LegendCJS

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If it could be conclusively shown that the likelyhood of life ever existing on Mars is vanishingly small, it would get planetary protectionists out of the way, and we could get on with development, industrialization and eventually colonization of the place.
Yes, those darn planetary protectionists that hold the power of the purse and control space program budgets and priorities worldwide.  What a nice world view: assert that PP-ers are the main obstacle, and also assert that overcoming that obstacle requires proving a negative- it does make a pretty convincing explanation as to why progress is so slow.  I see its attraction.

Obligatory note that I don't hold the same view, because this is the internet and the risk of sarcasm being mistaken for sincerity is 100%.
Remember: if we want this whole space thing to work out we have to optimize for cost!

Offline Dalhousie

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Though I think the survey as a whole pretty fraught with bias.....

Why do you say that?
"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 RigelFive

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Oh my here we go all over again! 

Didn't the NASA / world scientific community go crazy on Felisa Wolfe-Simon (who actually performed experiments) for suggesting that Arsenic was a precursor to life!!!!??

So now we've added Boron to the list of needed precursors to produce life (and this was determined by a couple of "cosmochemists" over a beer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?)   :D



NASAs effort to find microbial life on Mars has turned into the equivalent of the experts on Ancient Aliens running around doing field research to prove aliens/UFOs really exist.
« Last Edit: 06/13/2013 06:03 AM by RigelFive »

Offline beb

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Apparently I wasn't as clear as I thought I was in my introduction to this thread. *sigh*  It seems to me that all news coming from mars, and also Jupiter and Saturn, is framed by the search for life. Will funding for space exploration disappear, like a popped soap bubble, when people conclude that there is no life out there to discover?

Offline Covspaceman

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To answer the OP, it really depends on your audience. I'd suggest that, for biologists in particular, whether life existed on Mars or not isn't the primary question. The important issue is WHY it did or didn't. Answering that would further the quest to pin down the requirements for life and how it started here on earth.
To answer that question with any confidence would almost certainly require having humans in-situ on other worlds so human spaceflight is still very much 'on the cards'.

Andrew.

Offline R7

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Will funding for space exploration disappear, like a popped soap bubble, when people conclude that there is no life out there to discover?

Unlikely.

a) Probes are being sent to places known for sure to be dead as a dodo (Mercury, Pluto, Venus etc.)
b) How do you conclude that there is no life elsewhere to discover except thoroughly try to discover it in all the places that theoretically could harbor it. Takes a long time to dig Mars all over, we have barely scratched the surface in couple places, and then there are the the Jovian moons, Titan and rest of the universe...
c) The end game should be us spreading our life elsewhere, no? How to do that properly requires exploration for a long, long time.

Btw I wouldn't disregard planetary protectionists. If a Martian bug or fossil of such would be discovered they'd get very loud for sure, wanting to declare the entire planet as extra-terrestrial wild life sanctuary or something, and of course to protect us from evil Mars super plague.
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Offline JohnFornaro

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Didn't the NASA / world scientific community go crazy on Felisa Wolfe-Simon (who actually performed experiments) for suggesting that Arsenic was a precursor to life!!!!??

Whoah there, kemosabe.

The kerfluffle was that she and NASA claimed that it was alien life, when actually it was weird terrestrial life that was found. 

Nobody complains about weird life.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline gospacex

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If it could be conclusively shown that the likelyhood of life ever existing on Mars is vanishingly small, it would get planetary protectionists out of the way, and we could get on with development, industrialization and eventually colonization of the place.

Don't underestimate our green friends.

If you think they can't argue that we must keep our dirty polluting hands off Martian rocks, dust and ice, that they have an "immeasurable" value in a pristine, untouched, "natural" state, then you are in for a surprise.

Offline RocketmanUS

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Does not matter whether there ever was life else were in the universe or Mars.

We would head to Mars anyway on our way to exploring and colonizing beyond Earth.

Online Orbiter

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You have to understand why we'd go to Mars. It would never be just to find evidence for life there past or present.
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Offline ChrisWilson68

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Didn't the NASA / world scientific community go crazy on Felisa Wolfe-Simon (who actually performed experiments) for suggesting that Arsenic was a precursor to life!!!!??

Whoah there, kemosabe.

The kerfluffle was that she and NASA claimed that it was alien life, when actually it was weird terrestrial life that was found. 

Nobody complains about weird life.

What Felisa Wolfe-Simon actually claimed was the she had discovered a microbe that could substitute arsenic for some of the phosphorus normally needed to construct DNA.

That's not really the same as claiming arsenic was a precursor to life.  It was only a claim that perhaps arsenic could replace phosphorus.

Neither she nor NASA claimed it was alien life.  They simply claimed it suggested alien life might be possible in a wider range of environments that was otherwise assumed.

But the reason there was a kerfuffle at all was that it was shoddy research and it turned out on closer examination that what Wolfe-Simon had claimed had never actually happened.  NASA rushed to trumpet results to the popular media before they had been properly peer reviewed.

The scientific consensus is now that Wolfe-Simon's microbes never used arsenic in place of phosphorus to build DNA.  And well-established principals of chemistry say it's not physically possible, as the bonds arsenic would form are orders of magnitude too weak to fill the role of phosphorus in DNA.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felisa_Wolfe-Simon

Offline Dalhousie

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So now we've added Boron to the list of needed precursors to produce life (and this was determined by a couple of "cosmochemists" over a beer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?) 


Cosmochemist is general term used for chemists who specialise in extraterrestrial chemistry, from interstellar clouds to dust, meteorites, and planetary samples.  No need for quotes which imply it's a suspect term.

The did not determine this "over a beer".  They analysed samples from a martian meteorite and an ordinary chondriteand compared the results with published data on other martian meteorites and terrestrial materials. That's called research.

Boron has been known as an essential trace element for plant growth for many decades.  What has also been known that the synthesis of ribose is facilated by clay substrates with boron levels similar to those found in terrestrial clays.  This work is the first reported occurrence of clays with that amount of boron (~200 ppm) in extraterrestial materials.  So yes, this is an important discovery for those interested in abiogenesis.
 
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NASAs effort to find microbial life on Mars has turned into the equivalent of the experts on Ancient Aliens running around doing field research to prove aliens/UFOs really exist.


The authors are from the University of Hawaii, not NASA.

This is peer-reviewered research by people at a recognised university. Equating them with ancient astronaut nutters is slander.


Maybe you should read the paper before posting.  It's available for free online.

http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0064624
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Offline RigelFive

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Should Mars be deemed 100% sterile (which it *cough* already has *cough*)... the insatiable quest to refine parameters for the Drake equation will have to move to other objects.

The argument I believe I've heard is that you have to find water.  To me, this means go to places like Enceladus.  We've already seen jets of ice coming off of this moon with the Cassini mission. 

If you really want to heap risk onto a manned mission to explore a planet...  just consider a manned mission to Enceladus or other moons around Saturn.  Jupiter might be nice too.

Aim farther out.  Then you can have Mars for free.

Offline Dalhousie

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Apparently I wasn't as clear as I thought I was in my introduction to this thread. *sigh*  It seems to me that all news coming from mars, and also Jupiter and Saturn, is framed by the search for life. Will funding for space exploration disappear, like a popped soap bubble, when people conclude that there is no life out there to discover?

No, I don't think it will. 

Exploration is not framed in these terms, even for Jupiter or Saturn.  Exploration of Mars, Europa, Enceladeus, and Titan are partly expressed in these terms, and rightly so, because they are important targets for astrobiology.

Even for Mars, the survey linked to previously did not rate the search for life as the primary reason for exploring Mars.  Understanding Mars as Mars was the highest.
"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 RigelFive

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Boron has been known as an essential trace element for plant growth for many decades. 

Equating them with ancient astronaut nutters is slanders.

Maybe you should read the paper before posting.  It's available for free online.

http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0064624
Ok. Read the paper.  Hey.... sorry guy.  Boron is a toxin just like Arsenic is a toxin.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/22114689/

Saying that their paper was peer reviewed doesn't seem completely unbiased.  They simply found crystals of borates, not RNA with a dab of boron that is performing life's mechanisms on Mars. 

Lets not call the History Channel's Ancient Alien's TV show people 'nutters' please.  That is completely risable.  UH team flew to Antarctica to get a rock specimen!!!  Instead of analyzing a rock from Antarctica and Sutter's Creek, they should have simply flown half way to Puma Punku to figure out what the aliens used to cut the rocks so precisely.
« Last Edit: 06/14/2013 04:35 AM by RigelFive »

Offline Dalhousie

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Boron has been known as an essential trace element for plant growth for many decades. 

Equating them with ancient astronaut nutters is slanders.

Maybe you should read the paper before posting.  It's available for free online.

http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0064624


Ok. Read the paper.  Hey.... sorry guy.  Boron is a toxin just like Arsenic is a toxin.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/22114689/

The first line of your link says "Boron is an essential micronutrient for plants, and it is beneficial for animals."

High levels are toxic, low levels are a micronutrient. See also
http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex713

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Saying that their paper was peer reviewed doesn't seem completely unbiased. 

Please provide evidence of bias.

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They simply found crystals of borates, not RNA with a dab of boron that is performing life's mechanisms on Mars. 


Read the paper.  They did not find "crystals of borates", they found clays with elevated boron probably as borate ions adsorbed on the surface.

They did not claim to have found "RNA with a dab of boron that is performing life's mechanisms on Mars". Their postulate is that borate ions absorbed onto clay surfaces may catalyse ribose synthesis.  It is a hypothesis for testing.

« Last Edit: 06/15/2013 03:25 AM by Dalhousie »
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Offline RigelFive

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Please provide evidence of bias.
Yes.  On the link for the paper.. click the link for "About the Authors".  It is thusly written:

Quote
James D. Stephenson, Lydia J. Hallis, Stephen J. Freeland
NASA Astrobiology Institute, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America

Lydia J. Hallis, Kazuhide Nagashima Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America

The NASA Astrobiology Institute has had a few calls recently that just were not spot on. What is the peer review process at the NASA Astrobiology Institute ?  I think that is likely one of the few ultimate questions remaining.  Certainly Wolfe-Simon's articles were not well received once published. It is clear NASA is attempting to gain some improvement in credibility by collaborating with University of Hawaii.

At least they are making it all look easy to figure out.  You just imagine a conversation over beer and up comes the topic of boron in some clay from Mars.

Yes.  The scanning electron microscope only registers elements from the samples.  Not a mineral composition.  When you look at the grain microstructure- that is not boron atom kicking an RNA molecule around.  It looks like a grain of a mineral. 
« Last Edit: 06/14/2013 07:39 AM by RigelFive »

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Yes.  The scanning electron microscope only registers elements from the samples.  Not a mineral composition.  When you look at the grain microstructure- that is not boron atom kicking an RNA molecule around.  It looks like a grain of a mineral. 

I think you're trolling. But even if you aren't, you are misrepresenting things... the claim is that boron might catalyse reactions, not that it actually is found in RNA.
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Offline R7

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I can verify that boron is definitely an essential micronutrient for plants. It's a bit tricky one because the corridor between having too little or too much of it is narrow.

If proof needed I have a sack of borax in the barn for canola boron fertilizing (as oil seed plant it needs more of it than cereals) and a barrel of foliar fertilizer mixture containing boron, manganese, copper and zinc.

Dunno how this is connected to Mars though, except that if boron is found on Martian soil then it's good news for future Martian agriculture.
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Offline JohnFornaro

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Neither [Wolfe-Simon] nor NASA claimed it was alien life.

That would be a googolnope.

Take a googol with the terms "Felisa_Wolfe-Simon + alien life + NASA".  The number of responses is greater than zero.

The scientific consensus now is a lot different from the news then.  I see that there has been a lot of official backpedaling as well.  NASA was compelled to backpedal from the "impressions" they were "marketing" to the "people".  Probably too much winking and nodding.

Anyhow, back to the OP.

Question:

When Curiosity's work is done, will it be established one way or another that life does, did, or never existed on Mars?

Answer:

Probably not.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Neither [Wolfe-Simon] nor NASA claimed it was alien life.

That would be a googolnope.

Take a googol with the terms "Felisa_Wolfe-Simon + alien life + NASA".  The number of responses is greater than zero.

Of course the number of Google results for that set of search terms is not zero.  But I scanned the first few of them and confirmed that none of them seems to ever say that Wolfe-Simon or NASA claimed what Wolfe found was alien life.

So, I stand by my assertion.  If you want to show it's wrong, that should be easy for you: provide a specific URL, and a quote from that URL that says that either NASA or Wolfe-Simon claimed the microbes she found were alien life.

Offline D_Dom

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So you scanned the first few google responses. Upthread you cite wikipedia as a source. Upon this foundation you stand by your assertions?
 Gotta love the interweb
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Offline Rocket Science

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Had a similar thread a while back, the respose is sort of meh.... ;D

Have a look!

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=28499.0
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Offline ChrisWilson68

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So you scanned the first few google responses. Upthread you cite wikipedia as a source. Upon this foundation you stand by your assertions?
 Gotta love the interweb

Are you kidding me?  Look at the context.

Someone responded to my comments by suggesting I was obviously wrong because a particular Google search yielded a non-zero list of results.  I humored that person and looked at the Google results just to prove a point -- that the Google results for that search don't contradict what I said at all.

Obviously I'm not basing my original comments on the Google results as you imply.  And as for quoting Wikipedia, that doesn't imply that's my only source of information, just that putting in the reference helps my case, because it's a short, easy-to-read summary that is consistent with what I said.

Offline savuporo

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Question:
When Curiosity's work is done, will it be established one way or another that life does, did, or never existed on Mars?

Answer:
Probably not.
2-megapixel screensavers are getting lame though, so we'll need a new rover.
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Offline RigelFive

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Refresher course on Wolfe-Simon (then NASA Astrobiology) and arsenic based alien life on Earth, and thoughts of alien life on MARS:
http://m.popsci.com/science/article/2011-09/scientist-strange-land


http://m.popsci.com/science/article/2012-02/death-arsenic-life

Quote
The finding, which was extensively promoted by NASA (whose Astrobiology Institute funded the research), jolted the scientific community, since it contradicted long-accepted rules of biochemistry. Within days of the announcement researchers began to question Wolfe-Simon's methodology and conclusions. Bypassing peer-reviewed periodicals, many voiced their criticisms directly on blogs and Twitter.


http://felisawolfesimon.com/

Quote
R.S. Oremland, C.W. Saltikov, F. Wolfe-Simon, and J.F. Stolz (2009). Arsenic in the evolution of Earth and extraterrestrial ecosystems. Geomicrobiology Journal. 26: 522-536. [pdf]

"A case can be made to focus on arsenic as a font for Martian life. Mars had a clear volcanic history, and associated hydrother-mal fluids may have entrained dissolved arsenic minerals in their circulation, eventually emptying into depressions (i.e., lakes) on the Noachian to Hesperian age surface. Over time, these “lakes” would have been exposed to decreasing temperatures and atmospheric pressures as Mars lost its volatiles, and the remaining fluids eventually reached saturation as dense rem-nant brines underlying a salt/ice crust. Under such conditions, key brine components like arsenate would reach high concen-trations. Anaerobes that employ low potential electron accep-tors like methanogens (CO 2 ) or sulfate reducers would be en-ergetically disadvantaged under such a regimen of high salinity compared with arsenate-respirers (Oren 1999; Newman et al. 1997a). Indeed, salt-saturated Searles Lake (Fig. 1) has an ac-tive full microbiological arsenic cycle (Oremland et al. 2005) but lacks any capacity for sulfate-reduction (Kulp et al. 2006, 2007). The strict anaerobe Halarsenatibacter silvermani grows optimally on As(V) at salt-saturation (Oremland et al. 2005;
Switzer Blum et al. 2009). A similar analogy can be supposed for ancient Mars, or perhaps concentrated brines believed to be lying in deep within buried aquifers. If anoxygenic photosynthe-sis also occurred on early Mars, then As(III) of volcanic origin deposited on its surface could have been converted to As(V) and the full As-cycle initiated. The current surface of Mars has become highly oxidized over time by physical/chemical pro-cesses, which also would have left residual deposits of As(V). It would certainly be of interest in future Martian surface robotic missions to look for the presence of arsenic minerals, a capacity that current surface Rovers and other robotic missions lack."

I think Wolfe-Simon just used the wrong words about a multi billion dollar nuclear powered NASA MSL mission not having the full capabilities needed to find all types of life on Mars.  For that, she was blitzed negatively by the blogs/media.

The arsenic story was published when Wolfe-Simon was at Harvard University (a.k.a. H.U.). Now the Boron story is being published by University of Hawaii (a.k.a.  U.H.).  There are no quips from hawaii about the MSL lander, so this boron research appears to have been written on John F's "whole cloth".

Both arsenic and boron studies are/were funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

I'd put money down ($5) that both of these studies (boron and arsenic) are actually on the right track. 

However, I still think Ancient Aliens show is on the right track too and we don't need NASA spend money to research this.  Rationale is that the Drake equation implies that it will take nearly an infinite amount of resources to really conclude there is intelligent (or microbial) life elsewhere in the galaxy. 


Offline Dalhousie

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But the reason there was a kerfuffle at all was that it was shoddy research and it turned out on closer examination that what Wolfe-Simon had claimed had never actually happened.  NASA rushed to trumpet results to the popular media before they had been properly peer reviewed.

The work was not shoddy, the paper was detailed, carefully outlined their evidence and their arguments, lodged the key materials for public access.  The paper was peer reviewed and published in one of the top science journals in the world.

NASA did not "rush to trumpet the results", it issued a press release on the publication of the peer reviewed paper in Science Express.  No press conference, just one of six science press releases in December 2010.  There were also press released by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Arizona State University, and Stanford University.  Why would these institutions not issue a statement when their researchers had a paper published in Science?


Quote
The scientific consensus is now that Wolfe-Simon's microbes never used arsenic in place of phosphorus to build DNA.

That's how science works.  People publish data and hypotheses to test them, these are tested by later research.  Negative results are just as important as positive ones.  Just because something is later shown to be wrong does not mean that the earlier work was poor.

Quote
And well-established principals of chemistry say it's not physically possible, as the bonds arsenic would form are orders of magnitude too weak to fill the role of phosphorus in DNA.

The trouble is "well-established principles" sometimes show surprising exceptions in the world of complex systems like biology and geology.  Which is why the possibility of arsenic substituting for phosphorous has been discussed for many years and searching for example to test the possibility is a legitimate area of research.
« Last Edit: 06/15/2013 03:22 AM by Dalhousie »
"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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Quote
Please provide evidence of bias.
Yes.  On the link for the paper.. click the link for "About the Authors".  It is thusly written:

Quote
James D. Stephenson, Lydia J. Hallis, Stephen J. Freeland
NASA Astrobiology Institute, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America

Lydia J. Hallis, Kazuhide Nagashima Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America

And how is this germane, let alone evidence of bias?


You do realise there are more than 700 people actively involved with the NAI?  That they are spread across NAI 15 teams with members in 25 other institutions on six continents? This means more than a thousand publications a year (assuming at least one publication a year per researcher).  In this context, what does:

Quote
The NASA Astrobiology Institute has had a few calls recently that just were not spot on.

even mean, let alone have any relevance?

Quote
What is the peer review process at the NASA Astrobiology Institute ?

It 's not the job of the NAI to provide formal peer review.  Peer review is done by the journals that papers are submitted to.

Quote
I think that is likely one of the few ultimate questions remaining.  Certainly Wolfe-Simon's articles were not well received once published. It is clear NASA is attempting to gain some improvement in credibility by collaborating with University of Hawaii.

NASA has been working with people at the University of Hawaii for at least 50 years.  This isn't a recent attempt to "gain some improvement in credibility".


Quote
At least they are making it all look easy to figure out.  You just imagine a conversation over beer and up comes the topic of boron in some clay from Mars.

Or over dinner, during a coffee break, at the beach on the weekend, round the water cooler. or during a casual conversation in the corridor.  That is how science works, that is why organisations like the NAI are so important because they allow researchers to network and collaborate, to cross pollinate.


Quote
The scanning electron microscope only registers elements from the samples.  Not a mineral composition.  When you look at the grain microstructure- that is not boron atom kicking an RNA molecule around.  It looks like a grain of a mineral. 

They did not use an SEM to analyse the samples, they used an ion microprobe.  The chemistry determined is the composition of the mineral target.

The authors did not say anything about illustrating a "boron atom kicking an RNA molecule around."  The illustrate, using an SEM image, the clay veins they analysed.

The evidence that boron facilitates ribose synthesis and the importance clays are found in the references they use references 3 and 4, and 7, 8, 9 and 10, respectively.
[/quote]
"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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I think Wolfe-Simon just used the wrong words about a multi billion dollar nuclear powered NASA MSL mission not having the full capabilities needed to find all types of life on Mars.  For that, she was blitzed negatively by the blogs/media.

Wolfe-Simon was wrong, arsenic can be detected by the APX and the ChemMin on MSL, the ChemMin can also determine the minerals present.  All assuming that the arsenic is in sufficient abundance of course.

The negative blogs and media comment came from people who thought the authors of the paper were wrong, not because of a passing comment about MSL.

Quote
The arsenic story was published when Wolfe-Simon was at Harvard University (a.k.a. H.U.). Now the Boron story is being published by University of Hawaii (a.k.a.  U.H.).  There are no quips from hawaii about the MSL lander, so this boron research appears to have been written on John F's "whole cloth".

Wolfe Simon was at the USGS when she published the Science paper, not Hawaii.  It even says that in her home page that you linked to.  Did you read it?

Quote
Both arsenic and boron studies are/were funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

So what?

Quote
I'd put money down ($5) that both of these studies (boron and arsenic) are actually on the right track. 

So these studies you previously poured scorn on you now think are actually on the right track?

Quote
However, I still think Ancient Aliens show is on the right track too and we don't need NASA spend money to research this.  Rationale is that the Drake equation implies that it will take nearly an infinite amount of resources to really conclude there is intelligent (or microbial) life elsewhere in the galaxy.


Irrelevant, off topic and wrong with respect to the OP. We are not discussing ancient aliens, intelligent life or even microbes elsewhere in the galaxy, we are discussing life on Mars.  It won't take "nearly an infinite amount of resources" to falsify the proposition that there is or was life on Mars, although it will certainly take a lot.
"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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Neither [Wolfe-Simon] nor NASA claimed it was alien life.

That would be a googolnope.

Take a googol with the terms "Felisa_Wolfe-Simon + alien life + NASA".  The number of responses is greater than zero.

Of course the number of Google results for that set of search terms is not zero.  But I scanned the first few of them and confirmed that none of them seems to ever say that Wolfe-Simon or NASA claimed what Wolfe found was alien life.

So, I stand by my assertion.  If you want to show it's wrong, that should be easy for you: provide a specific URL, and a quote from that URL that says that either NASA or Wolfe-Simon claimed the microbes she found were alien life.

Which is a perfectly acceptable nit. 

Seeing as how web pages can change and do change and are known to change and that this "change" is part an parcel of the internets,  you may stand by your assertion of the current fleeting moment.

The kerfluffle existed not at my doing, but at their doing.  I can add one of the Wolfe-Simon type sites to my exhaustive list of sites who have deleted my posts.  Point still standing is that that "number of Google results for that set of search terms is not zero".

We will never know about the alternate universe where NASA reported the results of  Wolfe-Simon's work with more initial accuracy than was actually done.  NASA did not do its part to keep the headlines from being quite so dramatique.

I assume that the ahem, peers, took the day off?  Everybody gets a break.

You may pretend that the past has not existed, as proven by the current state of the internets, because humans always get to make choices, and the internets is only, and can only, be a reflection of the shadows on the cave wall.  If I'm not getting too metaphysical here.

Wolfe-Simon discovered something.  The early reports have been de-bunked because the NASA originated hype was not supported by facts.

In addition, a friendly reminder that Wiki has a posting history as well:

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Felisa_Wolfe-Simon&oldid=400039319

Quote
Felisa Wolfe-Simon is a biochemist at the US Geological Survey and a fellow of the NASA Astrobiology Institute. Her research focuses on evolutionary microbiology and exotic metabolic pathways. Her recent work includes the possibility that some microorganisms can use arsenate (AsO3−
4) as a substitute for phosphate (PO3−
4), including examples cultured from Mono Lake, California.[1]

I'm not going to be reading the oracle every day on every subject.  Ya know.  Just sayin'.
« Last Edit: 06/15/2013 04:17 AM by JohnFornaro »
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline JohnFornaro

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Question:
When Curiosity's work is done, will it be established one way or another that life does, did, or never existed on Mars?

Answer:
Probably not.
2-megapixel screensavers are getting lame though, so we'll need a new rover.

I suggest eight wheels next time.  Or three.  Don't matter none to me.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline JohnFornaro

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It won't take "nearly an infinite amount of resources" to falsify the proposition that there is or was life on Mars, although it will certainly take a lot.

Allow me to summarize your several lengthy rebuttals here and there immediately above in this thread:

Anyhow, back to the OP.

Question:

When Curiosity's work is done, will it be established one way or another that life does, did, or never existed on Mars?

Answer:

Probably not.

Therefore, they will need, ahem, "more money".
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline hop

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Seeing as how web pages can change and do change and are known to change and that this "change" is part an parcel of the internets,  you may stand by your assertion of the current fleeting moment.
Oh come on... The original paper was quite clear that GFAJ-1 was a member of a known family of earth microbes. The press release and video of the press conference from the original announcement are also not hard to find. If you are suggesting they have all been retroactively changed to remove references to alien life, that's conspiracy incorrect which has no place in this forum.

The original announcement made reference to what implications the supposed arsenic life might have for astrobiology (hence, "alien life" showing up in your google results ::)) There are plenty of legitimate criticisms to be made over whole hoopla, but your statement
Quote
she and NASA claimed that it was alien life
is simply 100% flat out wrong.

Offline RigelFive

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Seeing as how web pages can change and do change and are known to change and that this "change" is part an parcel of the internets,  you may stand by your assertion of the current fleeting moment.
Oh come on... The original paper was quite clear that GFAJ-1 was a member of a known family of earth microbes. The press release and video of the press conference from the original announcement Pare also not hard to find. If you are suggesting they have all been retroactively changed to remove references to alien life, that's conspiracy incorrect which has no place in this forum.

The original announcement made reference to what implications the supposed arsenic life might have for astrobiology (hence, "alien life" showing up in your google results ::)) There are plenty of legitimate criticisms to be made over whole hoopla, but your statement
Quote
she and NASA claimed that it was alien life
is simply 100% flat out wrong.
The title of the news story from December 2010 on FOX news is

"NASA Conference:  Alien Life on Earth"


YOU GOT TO RESPECT THE CLASSICS MAN!
« Last Edit: 06/15/2013 07:47 AM by RigelFive »

Offline Bob Shaw

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On the subject of this thread, there's a fairly well established view that life on Earth kicked off not once, but multiple times - and died off many, many times. The Earth went from sterile to life-bearing rather quickly, and perhaps even in the era of large impacts when both Earth and Mars were quite similar. Whether or not life was entirely local to Earth or deposited from comets has no bearing on the fact that life was -and is- remarkably pervasive, spreading out into every possible niche just as soon as it can. Life on Mars would, it seems reasonable to assume, have followed a similar pattern (remember, in both cases 'life' means slime - multicellular organiss came along later), and so should have spread into whatever resource-rich sites it could find.

That's the argument for life on Mars in a nutshell, and it's a persuasive one (the same applies to Venus).

Then, things changed. Mars didn't retain it's atmosphere, lost heat, and had no appreciable magnetic field. There was still water and sunlight, and oases of heat from impacts and volcanoes. So life must have remained in fewer and fewer locations, with fewer and fewer resources. Most likely, there's been little if any surace life on Mars for the past four billion years or so, though deep life in the tepid darkness may still exist even today.

So, 'no life, ever' is not only practically impossible to prove, but really quite unlikely. And there may yet be some life in friendly locales, but probably not in any accessible places.

Biological assays of surface material - UV blasted, perchlorate-soaked, acid-drenched, almost airless and frozen - really shouldn't be expected to return much in the way of results. By normal Earth standards the surface is almost certainly not merely dead, but stripped of life-friendly chemistry. The way to test for old life is via geochemical signatures, and yes, clays are the place to start - for every macrofossil there should always be a zillion microfossils, and for every microfossil there should be a zillion chemical residues - so look for the chemistry, not the bones. And looking in the right places will help!

In short, life on Mars was once rather likely; current surface life is quite unlikely; and chemistry is the way to find the evidence, not the hand lens.
« Last Edit: 06/15/2013 09:00 AM by Bob Shaw »

Offline R7

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she and NASA claimed that it was alien life
is simply 100% flat out wrong.
The title of the news story from December 2010 on FOX news is

"NASA Conference:  Alien Life on Earth"

Proofs only how news outlets sometime prefer to sensationalize titles to the point of misleading.

You guys need to define "alien" here.

Quote
Definition of ALIEN
1
: a person of another family, race, or nation
2
: a foreign-born resident who has not been naturalized and is still a subject or citizen of a foreign country; broadly : a foreign-born citizen
3
: extraterrestrial
4
: exotic 1

While talking heads on TV and some general public might want it to mean #3 the scientists surely mean #4 (arsenic-substituting microbe would be exotic). Stand-up comedian would interpret it that the bug came from Mexico.




AD·ASTRA·ASTRORVM·GRATIA

Offline Mader Levap

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Neither [Wolfe-Simon] nor NASA claimed it was alien life.
Take a googol with the terms "Felisa_Wolfe-Simon + alien life + NASA".  The number of responses is greater than zero.
This... is worst argument for something that I seen in long, long time.

I can make web page claiming that certain american politican (you all know who) said everyone in USA should be shot in head. After few days google will show results for that claim. According to your argument, I just made it truth.

I call it insane troll logic.
Be successful.  Then tell the haters to (BLEEP) off. - deruch
...and if you have failure, tell it anyway.

Offline R7

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AD·ASTRA·ASTRORVM·GRATIA

Offline JohnFornaro

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[You] simply 100% flat out wrong.

I apologize to the astrobiological community.  I should never have scheduled all those press conferences and headlines, where one thing is stated in the headline, and the opposite thing is stated in the written handout.

Thanks, R5, for that TV show.  I like TV.

The woman of that hour:

"I've lead a team that has discovered something that I've been thinking about for many years.  And I've been thinking about an idea of substitutions.  And what does it mean to be substitutioned, and what does it mean to be toxic.

So I've lead a team that has discovered a microbe that can substitute arsenic for phosphorous in its major molecules..."

The blond, giggly narrator:

"Hah, hah, hah.  Plus, let's be honest, you (the viewer) don't understand it either."

Her follicly challenged, artificially stuttering counterpart:

"She wasn't actually calling it alien life on Earth, but effectively, that's what she's talking about."

I'm reeaalllyy rreeeeellly glad that giggly blonde girls are so honest with me.  They do have more fun.  I can't wait to go out for a drink with her on Friday, after work.  (running joke.  you'd have to have already read the deleted post.)

As an aside, the press is certainly part of the problem with NASA's lack of accomplishment, taking a brief look at the larger picture, for a moment.  Remember, "Mars is easier than the Moon, actually."  And you can quote me on that.
« Last Edit: 06/15/2013 02:11 PM by JohnFornaro »
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline JohnFornaro

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This... is worst argument for something that I seen in long, long time.

Actually, ol' Mader doesn't seem to be following the narrative.  Let me help:

"I've lead a team, well actualy, me and Sivananda Saraswati have lead a team that has discovered something that I've been thinking about for many years.  And I've been thinking about an idea of true religion.  And what does it mean to be religioned, and what does it mean to be Hindu.

So I've lead a team that has discovered a Neo-Hindu Religious Society that can substitute Mars for Earth in its major belief systems..."

Quote from: googol
There are 5 professionals named John Fornaro, who use LinkedIn ...

My secret is outed.  It's a movement, I tell ya.  Remember.  Resistance is futile.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline JohnFornaro

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On the subject of this thread...

Thank you Bob. 

Quote from: Bob
In short, life on Mars was once rather likely; current surface life is quite unlikely; and chemistry is the way to find the evidence, not the hand lens.

As a reminder, there is a pragmatic aspect pertaining to the search for life on Mars, and it is an aspect which tends to have what I would call a detrimental affect on the accomplishment of that search.  I refer to the search for pork on Earth.

It is this latter search which has an important budgetary affect on which instrument suites are actually launched; how many rovers are built, and thus how much searching could be done; and most importantly, what are the criteria which end the search.

It is thought, based on Earth chemistry, that Mars could have been a likely location for second genesis at some distant point in the past.  Should the environmental changes, though drastic, have taken place over a long enough time period, there is thought to be a chance that some life is up there still.

I think the general approach with this one rover is pretty good.  They are using chemistry and a hand lens while they poke around up there.  They appear to be following Bob's summation: "for every macrofossil there should always be a zillion microfossils, and for every microfossil there should be a zillion chemical residues -- so look for the chemistry".

To the OP:

Nothing much will happen to space travel if it is proven that there never was life on Mars.  The reason that nothing will happen is that the "not-life fact" will not reduce any future costs whatsoever.

Should the cost issue be alleviated by an honest government program to build a new privately operated and publicly available economic infrastructure in the cis-lunar arena, then a dead planet in a heavy gravity well will have a greater chance of having a colonization attempt.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline RigelFive

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Ok so. Why hasn't the presence of boron or arsenic been reported on Mars from the MSL rover?

Is this the news before the news?

Offline RigelFive

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According to your argument, I just made it truth.

Ok so.  You tellin me that:

1) We should not believe everything NASA says when they have a press conference and claim some type of discovery about extraterrestrial life?
2) Any NEWS channel can take any amorphous NASA press conference and mischaracterize the message to make it look more interesting than an Ancient Aliens episode exploring the crisper in your refrigerator?
3) We need to spend (billions?) aimlessly looking around for trace amounts of boron in clay on Mars or other places in order to send a manned mission there?

Huh?  What?

Offline Dalhousie

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Ok so. Why hasn't the presence of boron or arsenic been reported on Mars from the MSL rover?

Is this the news before the news?

MSL has only analysed three targets to date with ChemMin, about and a few more APX.  The results have not yet been published so far (they are in the works I have been told from friends on the teams).

Both As and B would have to be abundant to be detected, several hundreds of ppm at least in whole rock samples, I suspect.

Edit - ChemCam of course would also be able to detect high levels of As and B, if present.


« Last Edit: 06/16/2013 11:32 PM by Dalhousie »
"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 RigelFive

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Teams flimmng thru MSL data together you say.  Hmmmm.  Sounds like an excercise where you have group interpretation of a Rohrschach diagram.  For some reason, everyone is told they have to agree on what the shape looks like.  Of course, there won't be any agreement in the end.


Offline Dalhousie

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Teams flimmng thru MSL data together you say.  Hmmmm.  Sounds like an excercise where you have group interpretation of a Rohrschach diagram.  For some reason, everyone is told they have to agree on what the shape looks like.  Of course, there won't be any agreement in the end.



All spacecraft instruments are operated by large teams who all contribute to the results.  You can call this group think if you like, others call it collaboration.

There is a lot of data and they have to be very sure that it's correct and the interpretations stand up to peer review.  You can call this flimming, I call it professional integrity and commitment to quality science.






"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 R7

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Both As and B would have to be abundant to be detected, several hundreds of ppm at least in whole rock samples, I suspect.

Can APXS detect 5B at all, or with adequate sensitivity? Various sources (example) state it can detect abundance of elements from 11Na to 38Sr.

PS comparing the work of MSL science team to Rorschach testing makes me see a troll in that inkblot  :P
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Offline Mader Levap

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According to your argument, I just made it truth.
Ok so.  You tellin me that:
Nope. I am telling that argument "there are google hits for THAT so it MUST BE TRUE!!111oneone" is epitome of braindead worthlessness.

Huh?  What?
What indeed. Why I should treat seriously someone that claim scientific method is Rorschach test?

troll in that inkblot  :P
What a coincidence. I see same thing.
« Last Edit: 06/16/2013 10:09 AM by Mader Levap »
Be successful.  Then tell the haters to (BLEEP) off. - deruch
...and if you have failure, tell it anyway.

Offline JohnFornaro

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Quote from: R5
1) We should not believe everything NASA says ...

2) Any NEWS channel can take any amorphous NASA press conference and mischaracterize the message ...

3) We need to spend (billions?) aimlessly looking around for trace amounts of boron in clay on Mars or other places in order to send a manned mission there?

The key word being "aimlessly".  Your detractors are wrapping themselves in the cloaks of their diplomas in pretended offense, but they still have no higher purpose for the exploration they desire.   

They don't have a good strategy, therefore aimlessness ends up becoming the strategy.  They like crunching numbers.  Scientificism never allows the idea of a higher purpose come into being.  But I digress.

Teams flimmng thru MSL data together you say.  Hmmmm.  Sounds like an excercise where you have group interpretation of a Rohrschach diagram.  For some reason, everyone is told they have to agree on what the shape looks like.  Of course, there won't be any agreement in the end.

All spacecraft instruments are operated by large teams who all contribute to the results.  You can call this group think if you like, others call it collaboration.

There is a lot of data and they have to be very sure that it's correct and the interpretations stand up to peer review.  You can call this flimming, I call it professional integrity and commitment to quality science.

True, R5 gave a harsh interpretation to the team collaboration.  Dalhousie objects, and attempts to reframe the discussion from a discussion of higher purpose to a discussion of the educational criteria of the collaborative team.

If one considers the "group interpretation of a Rohrschach diagram" in a slightly different light, one can understand something more about the higher purpose of all this flimmed MSL data.

The "group interpretation" of the unmanned planetary science group is:  We need a sample return from Mars as the very next, highest of high priorities, no matter the cost.  They have been insisting upon this since Viking.

The evidence pointing to this group interpretation is from the first location from where they intended to get a sample; a location where the flimmed data at the time was thought to be very "lifelike": a volcanic site.

The common man assumed all along that the search for life would follow the water, but the group of scientists at that time disagreed.  Now the group says, "fer shure, follow the water.  This time we already know where that sample should be taken".

They don't.  Because they don't, they shouldn't be placing MSR at the highest priority.

Really, the group wants the technical challenge of returning a sample, and will say pretty much anything to get policymakers to foot the bill.  It's a consistent, thirty year effort:

Quote from: Decadal Survey 2013
For the past three decades, the scientific community has consistently advocated the return of geologic samples from Mars.

Sample return in due course.  Finish looking for life.  Make the final determination about whether is now lifeless and if it ever had life.  Do it robotically at first, then as understanding grows, put a manned lab in orbit around the planet and make the final call on life.

If the planet is alive today, determine what the preservation standards should be.  Otherwise, start selling plots.

Oh.

There's one more way to look at that inkblot.  The group interpretation will always be:  The data are inconclusive.  We need more money.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline RigelFive

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PS comparing the work of MSL science team to Rorschach testing makes me see a troll in that inkblot  :P
;D

Offline RigelFive

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True, R5 gave a harsh interpretation to the team collaboration.  Dalhousie objects, and attempts to reframe the discussion from a discussion of higher purpose to a discussion of the educational criteria of the collaborative team.
Fair enough.  Rorschach diagrams BEGONE!

So if one wanted a career in astrobiology (in the USA), where do you go to get the advanced degrees?  And we'd have to caveat this with, not an advanced certificate.  What I want is a pure PhD in Astrobiology (lets just say this business sounds pretty promising and is rife with opportunity, curiosity.  Everybody in this field has lots of spirit and looks like a real pathfinder to success). 

I can imagine a mission to Enceladus or Ganymede is going to need a fleet of Astrobiologists.

(Apply seatbelts)

So you go to the NASA Astrobiology Institute website (the one without the Rorschach Diagrams), here is what you'll find:

http://astrobiology2.arc.nasa.gov/nai/education-and-outreach/astrobiology-career-path-suggestions/

Quote
The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) is a virtual organization consisting of fourteen teams seated at universities and institutions across the US which conduct interdisciplinary research in astrobiology. These teams are actively engaged in training graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. The typical pathway for a student interested in pursuing astrobiology graduate studies is to specialize in a single scientific discipline, but within the broader intellectual spectrum encompassed by astrobiology as described above. Investigators on NAI teams are typically situated within a single department, such as astronomy, or geology, or biological sciences, and graduate students of those investigators typically take on the same departmental affiliation. Currently, PhD’s are not awarded solely in astrobiology.

No PhDs in Astrobiology!? Who is peer reviewing this stuff anyways!?

I've seen certificate programs as if you attend a few seminars and voila, now you are a full fledged Astrobiologist.

Educational standards for this field are dependent on a variety of other fields that at best might have one / two classes on this topic.  The PowerPoint charts on Astrobiology are somewhere on the hard drive....

I'd bet a Mars Sample Return mission or perhaps a flyby sample return of Enceladus would put astrobiology right into the high schools.  However, by the time kids will graduate, they'll be heading to business schools making millions on Google Glass Contact Lens applications.
« Last Edit: 06/16/2013 05:04 PM by RigelFive »

Offline Dalhousie

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Both As and B would have to be abundant to be detected, several hundreds of ppm at least in whole rock samples, I suspect.

Can APXS detect 5B at all, or with adequate sensitivity? Various sources (example) state it can detect abundance of elements from 11Na to 38Sr.

If they are in sufficient abundance, yes.  I have had a quick look for detelection limits of the instruments for these elements, no luck so far.

« Last Edit: 06/16/2013 11:31 PM by Dalhousie »
"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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True, R5 gave a harsh interpretation to the team collaboration.  Dalhousie objects, and attempts to reframe the discussion from a discussion of higher purpose to a discussion of the educational criteria of the collaborative team.

You are not making sense here.  What "higher purpose" do you mean?

I am only pointing out R5's apparent failure to grasp how legitimate sciencew works. 


If one considers the "group interpretation of a Rohrschach diagram" in a slightly different light, one can understand something more about the higher purpose of all this flimmed MSL data.[/quote]

Geochemical data is not an Rohrschach diagram.

What is "flimming"?

Quote
The "group interpretation" of the unmanned planetary science group is:  We need a sample return from Mars as the very next, highest of high priorities, no matter the cost.  They have been insisting upon this since Viking.

The evidence pointing to this group interpretation is from the first location from where they intended to get a sample; a location where the flimmed data at the time was thought to be very "lifelike": a volcanic site.

The common man assumed all along that the search for life would follow the water, but the group of scientists at that time disagreed.  Now the group says, "fer shure, follow the water.  This time we already know where that sample should be taken".

They don't.  Because they don't, they shouldn't be placing MSR at the highest priority.

Really, the group wants the technical challenge of returning a sample, and will say pretty much anything to get policymakers to foot the bill.  It's a consistent, thirty year effort:

Quote from: Decadal Survey 2013
For the past three decades, the scientific community has consistently advocated the return of geologic samples from Mars.

Sample return in due course.  Finish looking for life.  Make the final determination about whether is now lifeless and if it ever had life.  Do it robotically at first, then as understanding grows, put a manned lab in orbit around the planet and make the final call on life.

Attempt to drail the discussion onto your anti-MSR hobby horse noted.

Quote
If the planet is alive today, determine what the preservation standards should be.  Otherwise, start selling plots.

Off topic

Quote
The group interpretation will always be:  The data are inconclusive.  We need more money.

Wrong.  Here is an example of an the abstract from a recent multi-author publication from MSL.


R. M. E. Williams, J. P. Grotzinger, W. E. Dietrich, S. Gupta, D. Y. Sumner, R. C. Wiens,N. Mangold, M. C. Malin, K. S. Edgett, S. Maurice, O. Forni, O. Gasnault, A. Ollila, H. E. Newsom, G. Dromart, M. C. Palucis, R. A. Yingst, R. B. Anderson, K. E. Herkenhoff, S. Le Mouélic,7 W. Goetz, M. B. Madsen, A. Koefoed, J. K. Jensen, J. C. Bridges, S. P. Schwenzer, K. W. Lewis, K. M. Stack, D. Rubin, L. C. Kah, J. F. Bell III, J. D. Farmer, R. Sullivan, T. Van Beek, D. L. Blaney, O. Pariser, R. G. Deen, MSL Science Team

Martian Fluvial Conglomerates at Gale Crater

Observations by the Mars Science Laboratory Mast Camera (Mastcam) in Gale crater reveal isolated outcrops of cemented pebbles (2 to 40 millimeters in diameter) and sand grains with textures typical of fluvial sedimentary conglomerates. Rounded pebbles in the conglomerates indicate substantial fluvial abrasion. ChemCam emission spectra at one outcrop show a predominantly feldspathic composition, consistent with minimal aqueous alteration of sediments. Sediment was mobilized in ancient water flows that likely exceeded the threshold conditions (depth 0.03 to  0.9 meter, average velocity 0.20 to 0.75 meter per second) required to transport the pebbles. Climate conditions at the time sediment was transported must have differed substantially from the cold, hyper-arid modern environment to permit aqueous flows across several kilometers.

Science Vol 340 31 May 2013, p1068-0972


Conclusive results, no request for more money.

Edited for completeness.



« Last Edit: 06/17/2013 03:47 AM by Dalhousie »
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Offline RigelFive

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Geochemical data is not a Rohrschach diagram.
How does this picture make you feel?

Offline Dalhousie

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Geochemical data is not a Rohrschach diagram.
How does this picture make you feel?

XRD diffraction pattern.  Rich in meaning to cryallographers and mineralogists, the most precise means available for determining mineralogy and classifying any crystalline material.
"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 RigelFive

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XRD diffraction pattern.  Rich in meaning to cryallographers and mineralogists, the most precise means available for determining mineralogy and classifying any crystalline material.
Yes.  Excellent.

But the XRD technique cannot reveal individual elements to low ppm concentrations.  This is due to a combination of crystalline as well as amorphous materials existing in the samples.  Perhaps if boron carbide is in a mineral as a crystal, this could be detected.  News ive read from MSL is that boron carbide is not even in the top 10 minerals.

The latest U Hawaii paper used Xray dispersive spectroscopy XRDS with an SEM that is used to make counts of individual elements rather than compounds.  This technique can measure low concentrations of boron. 

There is no likely chance that trace ppm amounts of boron can/will be detected using XRD.  MSL needed an SEM that could do XRDS, which is likely why we need an MSRM.
« Last Edit: 06/17/2013 07:13 AM by RigelFive »

Offline R7

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How does this picture make you feel?

Deeply scientific, and warmth in chest area knowing that experts interpret such images based on math, physics, calibrations using known targets etc. instead of random inkstain induced feelings based on anything from yesterday's chili curry to repressed childhood tensions with mother.

But the Ancient Aliens are true and already here:
AD·ASTRA·ASTRORVM·GRATIA

Offline Dalhousie

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XRD diffraction pattern.  Rich in meaning to cryallographers and mineralogists, the most precise means available for determining mineralogy and classifying any crystalline material.


But the XRD technique cannot reveal individual elements to low ppm concentrations.  This is due to a combination of crystalline as well as amorphous materials existing in the samples.

Nope.  XRD gives crystal structure and hence mineralogy, not chemistry.  It's got nothing to do with the proportions of amorphous to crystalline material or whether particular elements are in ppm concentrations or not. Mineralogy is important, and XRD is the best way to determine mineralogy.  MSL's XRD system, part of the CemMin, is the first we have sent off planet.

Chemistry comes from the APX, ChemCam and ChemMin in XRF mode.  if you want to know the boron content you use these.

The ChemMin, marketed on Earth as the Terra, can provide both XRF and XRD on the same sample.

Quote
Perhaps if boron carbide is in a mineral as a crystal, this could be detected.  News ive read from MSL is that boron carbide is not even in the top 10 minerals.

Boron carbide is not a naturally occurring substance AFAIK.  What makes you think it will be found on Mars?

Boron minerals of any type are going to be rare on Mars, possibly rarer than on Earth.  It is unlikely they will occur in the top ten minerals.

Quote
The latest U Hawaii paper used Xray dispersive spectroscopy XRDS with an SEM that is used to make counts of individual elements rather than compounds.  This technique can measure low concentrations of boron. 

If this is the paper discussed earlier then no, they did not, they used an electron microprobe, which is quite a different technique.

X-ray dispersive spectroscopy is, more properly known as Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (EDX, EDS, or XEDS).

Quote
There is no likely chance that trace ppm amounts of boron can/will be detected using XRD. 

Once again, you don't use  XRD to determine boron, although you can use it to determine the presence of borate minerals.  To determine boron you would use ChemMin in XRF mode, ChemCam or the APX.


Quote
MSL needed an SEM that could do XRDS, which is likely why we need an MSRM.

There are many reasons why MSL could not have a SEM.  Volume and  power, for starters.  Some work has been done along this line, but the systems are now where near flight ready.  There are also the small questions of sample preparation (doing SEM-EDX on Earth requires a polished block or slide, and then carbon coating) and usually follows extensive optical microscopic study to identify targets.  Very difficult to do on Mars.

The great difficulty of doing sophisticated investigations such as SEM-EDX, also plain SEM, SEM-BSE, and a host of other methods not possible to miniaturise and automate, is precisely while MSR is a priority.  But that is another topic.
« Last Edit: 06/17/2013 10:09 PM by Dalhousie »
"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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You are not making sense here.  What "higher purpose" do you mean?

Are you a proponent of unmannned robotic science only, or do you see a possible future where people live on Mars, and the work done today suits that higher purpose?

The former group specifically excludes the latter group.

Quote from: Dalhousie
Geochemical data is not an Rohrschach diagram.

You are not willing to discuss any similarities in those two topics; how they might relate to a higher purpose of HSF and a martian base; whether group interpretations can be subject to group think; whether group thinking can lead to incorrect mission prioritization; how these issue could be applied to the topic of a barren Mars and what to do next; and several other things besides.

Quote from: Dalhousie
Attempt to drail the discussion onto your anti-MSR hobby horse noted.

Note that I can draw false conclusions based on opinions which I do not care for:  I note that you are quite in favor of top priority for MSR without any scientific justification.

Quote from: Dalhousie
Here is an example of an the abstract from a recent multi-author publication from MSL. [which does not conclude 'we need more money'.]

Exception noted.

From the Keck paper Conclusions:

"...that such an endeavor may be essential technically and programmatically for the success of both near-term and long-term human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit."

An "essential" endeavor would need more money to verify whether it would be "technically and programmatically" successful.  The word "may" is used as a weasel word, with the intent to imply objectivity.  Even so, this is the statement in the study, corroborated by the full court press from the President down, to put this project at the forefront of NASA's efforts.  Starting with the 'more money' part: $2.6B for openers.

They want more money.  It's a common, widespread request; it's not surprising nor illegal nor conspiratoria; it's to be expected.  That doesn't mean that the heist should be funded.  Same with the many many other papers proposing expensive missions.

In this case, Gongress is saying no funding for an asteroid rendezvous mission.

I pretty much disagree with your opinion on these policy matters.  But here's where, if I had a goat, you would have gotten it:

The OP:

What happens to space travel if it is proven that there never was life on Mars?

I answered this question quite succinctly:

Quote from: JF
If the planet is alive today, determine what the preservation standards should be.  Otherwise, start selling plots.

But you think such a response is "off topic".
« Last Edit: 06/17/2013 01:41 PM by JohnFornaro »
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline spacenut

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I think it would be best if no life was ever found on Mars.  I think it would make it easier to colonise.  We wouldn't have to worry about some odd ball DNA infecting us or us trying to protect it which might result in a more costly colonization effort.  If we bring our own crops, animals, ourselves, we will also bring our own bacteria and viruses.  If we can get some of our life forms to survive on Mars this would also be a plus.  Mars and the Moon would be good lower gravity areas to mine for resources for further space travel within our solar system.  We are going to need water, oxygen, fuel etc, to travel around the inner solar system and to eventually mine the astroid belt and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn for resources.  However I do agree that searching for life forms on these planets, moons, and large asteroids is necessary to keep from cross contaminating earths life forms with others.  Because earths gravity and atmosphere cost more to escape and return through, the Moon, Mars, Ceres, and the smaller bodies would become great resource centers for a space based colonalization society.  We are eventually going to have to escape the confines of earth and the earths easily accessible resources are slowly dwindling.  Research and development of space based technology to crack and assemble the molecules needed for resources and space construction can eventually be used on earth. 

Offline RigelFive

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The great difficulty of doing sophisticated investigations such as SEM-EDX, also plain SEM, SEM-BSE, and a host of other methods not possible to miniaturise and automate, is precisely while MSR is a priority.  But that is another topic.

Perhaps this was Wolfe-Simons point.  MSL cant do it all.

The difference in a mars sample return mission is that full scale lab equipment on Earth can be brought to bear on a Mars specimen.  Since there are already multiple samples of Mars rocks/meteorites on Earth - I really see no point to a MSR mission. Is there really any significant difference to what MSL is seeing vs what has been seen with the Mars based meteors???

So with Mars, I'd say the best option is to wrap it ALL up.  We stopped going to the moon as all the science was gained that was worth gaining.

Now gathering samples from other objects (asteroids and moons out to Saturn) would likely bring more gains to science.  Save lots of dough and just send robotic explorers to these places.  The space station was really meant to investigate long term effects of space travel on humans (simulating a trip to Mars).  We can't get enough plants to effectively grow on the ISS to make one side salad on Mars. 

Offline hop

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Since there are already multiple samples of Mars rocks/meteorites on Earth - I really see no point to a MSR mission.
Right. Since one geologist has a handful of rocks in a lab, there's no further need for field geology on earth.
Quote
Is there really any significant difference to what MSL is seeing vs what has been seen with the Mars based meteors???
If you pick up a random out of context rock on Earth, it totally tells you about the sedimentary history of the entire planet, right? Instead of studying the stratigraphy of the grand canyon, you could instead just look at a chunk of gravel from your driveway.
Quote
So with Mars, I'd say the best option is to wrap it ALL up.  We stopped going to the moon as all the science was gained that was worth gaining.
Right, no one is studying the moon any more. There have been no lunar science missions since Apollo, and no one studies the Apollo samples.
Quote
Now gathering samples from other objects (asteroids and moons out to Saturn) would likely bring more gains to science.
Yes, because unlike Mars, there are no meteorites that come from asteroids.

 ::) ::) ::)

Offline JohnFornaro

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So with Mars, I'd say the best option is to wrap it ALL up.  We stopped going to the moon as all the science was gained that was worth gaining.

That would be a disappointment on a great many levels.  The most important level is that "science" is not the most important activity of the human race.  "Living" is.

Second level disappointment:   Even if "science" should be relegated to is appropriate place in human affairs, as an important, but nice to have luxury, then it is particularly troubling for the scientists to assert that we've gained all the "science" from studting Luna that there was to be gained, for all time.  Soon, we will reach that same point with Mars.  After all, we've thoroughly, uhhhh.... scratched the surface of that planet and still the conclusion is that life "could have" evolved there in a second genesis from Earth.

Clearly, we have been to Mars, and done that.  After one or two asteroids, Saturn, Titan, and Europa, say, would that be sufficient "science" to satisfy humanity for pretty much all time?

The government, as we have seen verified by the actions of both branches, has no need to risk the lives of its astronauts on a government built launch vehicle for the time being.  At the moment, only robotic missions are being considered and planned for.

They are painting themselves into the "It's a Wrap" corner.

***************************************

As an aside, I love the English language.  Only language I ever bothered to get fluent in.  Even so, mine is a continued struggle.

So you allege that "We can't get enough plants to effectively grow on the ISS to make one side salad on Mars."

Just as a point of clarification, did you mean that we couldn't make one complete side salad any where in the ISS, or that on one side or another of the ISS, we could not make a salad, whether complete or incomplete, or that we could not make a salad of undetermined completeness which would satisfy one side of the HSF/robotic argument that might very well be taking place on the ISS?  Somehow you tied Mars into all those salad variants.

Just askin'.

Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline JohnFornaro

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Right, no one is studying the moon any more. There have been no lunar science missions since Apollo, and no one studies the Apollo samples.

They are certainly free to continue studying those existing samples.  Obviously, there's no need for more samples, or else they would be calling for a Lunar Sample Return mission.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Dalhousie

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You are not making sense here.  What "higher purpose" do you mean?

Are you a proponent of unmannned robotic science only, or do you see a possible future where people live on Mars, and the work done today suits that higher purpose?

The former group specifically excludes the latter group.

If you have read what I have written you know I am part of the second group.

Not that which group people belong to has any relationship to the actual evidence being discussed here.

Quote
Quote from: Dalhousie
Geochemical data is not an Rohrschach diagram.

You are not willing to discuss any similarities in those two topics; how they might relate to a higher purpose of HSF and a martian base; whether group interpretations can be subject to group think; whether group thinking can lead to incorrect mission prioritization; how these issue could be applied to the topic of a barren Mars and what to do next; and several other things besides.

Not a question being "not willing", there is no connection.  I reject any suggestion of "group think" in this area as a risible, ignorant and baseless assertion.  Anyone who actually has read the relevant literature or been to a Mars conference would know how silly it is to accuse martians scientists of"group think".

Quote
Quote from: Dalhousie
Attempt to drail the discussion onto your anti-MSR hobby horse noted.

Note that I can draw false conclusions based on opinions which I do not care for:  I note that you are quite in favor of top priority for MSR without any scientific justification.

That isn't the topic under discussion.

[/quote]
Quote from: Dalhousie
Here is an example of an the abstract from a recent multi-author publication from MSL. [which does not conclude 'we need more money'.]

Exception noted.[/quote]

No an exception, it is the norm for scientific papers.  I am  going to quote fifty or a hundred papers to show this to you.  Go andread them yourself.

Quote
"...that such an endeavor may be essential technically and programmatically for the success of both near-term and long-term human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit."

That's not a scientific paper, not is it relevant to Mars, so both off topic and irrelevant.

Quote
But here's where, if I had a goat, you would have gotten it:

The OP:

What happens to space travel if it is proven that there never was life on Mars? 

I answered this question quite succinctly:

Quote from: JF
If the planet is alive today, determine what the preservation standards should be.  Otherwise, start selling plots.

But you think such a response is "off topic".

Because the OP has already assumed this, therefore you should be discussing under than assumption, not using it as a platform to rant about your usual bugbears.
"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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Quote from: JF
If the planet is alive today, determine what the preservation standards should be.  Otherwise, start selling plots.
But you think such a response is "off topic".

Quote from: Dalhousie
Because the OP has already assumed this, therefore you should be discussing under than assumption, not using it as a platform to rant about your usual bugbears.

You raise some interesting points.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Dalhousie

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Quote
The great difficulty of doing sophisticated investigations such as SEM-EDX, also plain SEM, SEM-BSE, and a host of other methods not possible to miniaturise and automate, is precisely while MSR is a priority.  But that is another topic.

Perhaps this was Wolfe-Simons point.  MSL cant do it all.

It's not a point she made in the paper, but it is one that almost everyone interested in martian chemistry makes sooner or later.  But let's keep MSR to a separate discussion.

Quote
The difference in a mars sample return mission is that full scale lab equipment on Earth can be brought to bear on a Mars specimen.  Since there are already multiple samples of Mars rocks/meteorites on Earth - I really see no point to a MSR mission. Is there really any significant difference to what MSL is seeing vs what has been seen with the Mars based meteors???

A good question.  The preliminary results are very, very different to the SNC meteorites.  But a topic for another discussion thread.

Quote
So with Mars, I'd say the best option is to wrap it ALL up.  We stopped going to the moon as all the science was gained that was worth gaining.

We haven;'t wrapped Earth up yet, let alone Mars!  And certainly not the Moon.  We stopped going because the Apollo mission objectives were achieved, not because we learned all that was worth knowing.  But again, something for another discussion.

Quote
Now gathering samples from other objects (asteroids and moons out to Saturn) would likely bring more gains to science. 


Sample return from the moons of Saturn would be very difficult with current technology.  Sample return from asteroids has already happened, and there are two more missions in the works.  Plus we have hundreds of tonnes of material already in the form of meteorites.

edit - spelling and additional material
« Last Edit: 06/18/2013 01:05 AM by Dalhousie »
"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 RigelFive

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That would be a disappointment on a great many levels.  The most important level is that "science" is not the most important activity of the human race.  "Living" is.

***************************************

As an aside, I love the English language.  Only language I ever bothered to get fluent in.  Even so, mine is a continued struggle.

So you allege that "We can't get enough plants to effectively grow on the ISS to make one side salad on Mars."

Just as a point of clarification, did you mean that we couldn't make one complete side salad any where in the ISS, or that on one side or another of the ISS, we could not make a salad, whether complete or incomplete, or that we could not make a salad of undetermined completeness which would satisfy one side of the HSF/robotic argument that might very well be taking place on the ISS?  Somehow you tied Mars into all those salad variants.

Just askin'.

You are right!  It was late.  I should have been more careful with my wording.  Here ya go!

*** Lettuce on Mars - A poem by RigelFive ***
Living is made of life with a purpose by divine inspiration.
English is made of letters that transfers words of imagination.
Salad is made of leaves that man eats while gazing upon the stars.
Therefore, lettuce will never just start talking about traveling to Mars.
« Last Edit: 06/18/2013 06:32 AM by RigelFive »

Offline JohnFornaro

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I gotta say, R5, that NASA could reduce its costs by hiring me as staff artist.  And you as staff poet.  And I mean that in the most way that you can imagine.  Bretheren and Sisteren:  Lettuce spray.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline RigelFive

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I gotta say, R5, that NASA could reduce its costs by hiring me as staff artist.  And you as staff poet.  And I mean that in the most way that you can imagine.  Bretheren and Sisteren:  Lettuce spray.
;D

Yes NASA could use a poet and a real artist.  This computer generated animation technology really is too much. What are they going to do next?  Seven minutes of terror by THX LucasFilm?   If we had nice hand drawn sketches, greater progress will be achieved. 

Davinci would never have used these infernal CAD programs.

Anyways... If one thinks about the history of NACA and NASA, they really started out as a small committee.  Eventually these committees grew to the massive bureaucracies we now have with NASA.

NACA was formed to regain leadership in aeronautics after Germany made warplanes.  NASA was formed to regain our leadership in astronautics as Sputnik was launched.

So this NAI organization... Hmmm!  If we fail to find life on Mars OR fail to determine habitability, perhaps NAI becomes the eventual new organization to replace NASA (and the lesser portion with the aeronautics).

Perhaps NAI is that small committee that drives the whole vision of the organization.  CAN'T figure out the new word that transcends astro/aeronautics though.  The new organization would have a lesser component of astronautics and aeronautics.  However the elements of the new organization would consist of:
1) using robotic explorers, but with much more anthropomorphic and autonomous capabilities rather than being remotely controlled and lethargic (like a bunch of scientists flimming thru the XRD data from Mars).
2) cosmochemistry (whatever this is?)
3) astrobiology (or whatever the next equivalent discipline from a fully accredited academic institution is)
and
 4 ) cosmoterrabioticarcheology -  investigating the distribution of living molecules originating from Earth out to the solar system and beyond. Are trace elements of life from Earth found on Pluto?

  Perhaps this could be defined as the new era of cybernautics?   
« Last Edit: 06/19/2013 08:01 AM by RigelFive »

Offline JohnFornaro

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Perhaps this could be defined as the new era of cybernautics?

Uhhhh.... Stick with the poetry there, yungsta. Ya prose gittin' dense.  Again, I mean that in the most way possible (TM).

First, I didn't catch your new acronym, NAI.

Second, would the following be a fair interpretation of your rant outline?

Accepting the notion that government agencies grow from small committees to large bureaucracies; acknowledging that the original functions of those agencies evolve over time; noting that the evolution can result in agency mission creep resulting in a culture of non-accomplishment; what then would be a good strategy of directing the nation's aeronautic and HSF goals?

You suggest four areas of possible government endeavor.  All of them depend only upon robotic methodologies.  Therefore, it sounds like you are positing the tentative premise to remove the "H" from HSF and replace it with an "R".

Is this a fair paraphrase?
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline RigelFive

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Perhaps this could be defined as the new era of cybernautics?

Uhhhh.... Stick with the poetry there, yungsta. Ya prose gittin' dense.  Again, I mean that in the most way possible (TM).

First, I didn't catch your new acronym, NAI.

Second, would the following be a fair interpretation of your rant outline?

Accepting the notion that government agencies grow from small committees to large bureaucracies; acknowledging that the original functions of those agencies evolve over time; noting that the evolution can result in agency mission creep resulting in a culture of non-accomplishment; what then would be a good strategy of directing the nation's aeronautic and HSF goals?

You suggest four areas of possible government endeavor.  All of them depend only upon robotic methodologies.  Therefore, it sounds like you are positing the tentative premise to remove the "H" from HSF and replace it with an "R".

Is this a fair paraphrase?
I did not think about the acronym usage very deeply, but should have. Typically this comes from working in an acronym rich environment (without Rorschach diagrams).

Unfortunately, the NAI acronym actually has another acronym embedded in it. This can be best represented like a parasitic organism that feeds of off a comatose host attached right to the head (kind of like what happend in the movie Aliens).

Anyways... So the identity of NAI is of a lesser sized organization but appears to consume the entire entity of a larger one. To be proper (using the Queen's English and elocution of acronyms), the "correct" acronym should not be NAI but NASAAI (when saying this you should scream as if saying BONSAI!!! - even though you may be just refering to a small, well manacured tree)

Conversely, when NACA changed into NASA, the acronym formed a complimentary / gooey-like integration of the former organization with the new organization but as one singular identity.

HSF is a sub organization within astronautics. RSF might even be a smaller subset of HSF. But when HSF takes a day off, the robots are in charge.

I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO PROBLEM WITH NAMING A NEW CYBERNAUTIC ORGANIZATION ANYTHING YOU WANT (except NASA).

Really what the new committee should do is have about a dozen robots determine the future plans for space travel. If there is an unforeseen bureacracy that suddenly prevents a launch vehicle from being built, then Congress can have a new operating system installed (via WIFI). All Congress has to do is withhold from agreeing upon a continuing resolution that is to be voted on a daily basis. Robot bureacracies are much more manageable like this.

Acronyms section:
HSF - Human Space Flight
NAI - NASA Astrobiology Institute
NACA - National Advisory Commitee on Aeronautics
NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
RSF - Robotic Space Flight
« Last Edit: 06/20/2013 06:21 AM by RigelFive »

Offline JohnFornaro

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Well alrighty then.  Did I fairly paraphrase you above?
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline RigelFive

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Well alrighty then.  Did I fairly paraphrase you above?
Yes.

Offline JohnFornaro

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Well alrighty then.  Did I fairly paraphrase you above?
Yes.

Good.  I thought I got it.  Thanks for the clarification.  Therefore, do you agree with my synopsis of the OP?

To the OP:

Nothing much will happen to space travel if it is proven that there never was life on Mars.  The reason that nothing will happen is that the "not-life fact" will not reduce any future costs whatsoever.

Should the cost issue be alleviated by an honest government program to build a new privately operated and publicly available economic infrastructure in the cis-lunar arena, then a dead planet in a heavy gravity well will have a greater chance of having a colonization attempt.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline RigelFive

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Well alrighty then.  Did I fairly paraphrase you above?
Yes.

Good.  I thought I got it.  Thanks for the clarification.  Therefore, do you agree with my synopsis of the OP?

To the OP:

Nothing much will happen to space travel if it is proven that there never was life on Mars.  The reason that nothing will happen is that the "not-life fact" will not reduce any future costs whatsoever.

Should the cost issue be alleviated by an honest government program to build a new privately operated and publicly available economic infrastructure in the cis-lunar arena, then a dead planet in a heavy gravity well will have a greater chance of having a colonization attempt.
 


Rather than answer yes/no to this question, let me provide some information that may amend your prior thought.

There is a job posted for the NAI Director position.  To me the would suggest:
A). The prior guy left because there was no sign of life on Mars.
B).  The new guy gets upward to $165k a year (with a bachelors degree) and 800 plus employees.  Lets just say the median salary is $100k.  This means that the budget for NAI may have swooned to $80 million in 2013 vs a number posted on wikipedia of a mere $16million in 2008.
 

At this rate of growth, the NAI could take over the entire NASA budget in ten years.

https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/339239100
...
« Last Edit: 06/21/2013 12:28 AM by RigelFive »

Offline Chris Bergin

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