Author Topic: What happens to space travel if it is proven that there never was life on Mars?  (Read 59340 times)

Offline JohnFornaro

  • Not an expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9161
  • Delta-t is the salient metric.
  • Planet Eaarth
    • Design / Program Associates
  • Liked: 617
  • Likes Given: 320
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

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3310
  • Liked: 447
  • Likes Given: 801
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

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 215
  • I hope that you relish Tranya as much I
  • Liked: 2
  • Likes Given: 1
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

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1050
  • Liked: 425
  • Likes Given: 371
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

  • Propulsophile
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2738
    • Don't worry.. we can still be fans of OSC and SNC
  • Liked: 949
  • Likes Given: 662
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

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 963
  • Liked: 430
  • Likes Given: 470
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

  • Propulsophile
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2738
    • Don't worry.. we can still be fans of OSC and SNC
  • Liked: 949
  • Likes Given: 662
AD·ASTRA·ASTRORVM·GRATIA

Offline JohnFornaro

  • Not an expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9161
  • Delta-t is the salient metric.
  • Planet Eaarth
    • Design / Program Associates
  • Liked: 617
  • Likes Given: 320
[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

  • Not an expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9161
  • Delta-t is the salient metric.
  • Planet Eaarth
    • Design / Program Associates
  • Liked: 617
  • Likes Given: 320
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

  • Not an expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9161
  • Delta-t is the salient metric.
  • Planet Eaarth
    • Design / Program Associates
  • Liked: 617
  • Likes Given: 320
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

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 215
  • I hope that you relish Tranya as much I
  • Liked: 2
  • Likes Given: 1
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

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 215
  • I hope that you relish Tranya as much I
  • Liked: 2
  • Likes Given: 1
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

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2167
  • Liked: 301
  • Likes Given: 368
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

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 215
  • I hope that you relish Tranya as much I
  • Liked: 2
  • Likes Given: 1
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

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2167
  • Liked: 301
  • Likes Given: 368
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

  • Propulsophile
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2738
    • Don't worry.. we can still be fans of OSC and SNC
  • Liked: 949
  • Likes Given: 662
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
AD·ASTRA·ASTRORVM·GRATIA

Offline Mader Levap

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 963
  • Liked: 430
  • Likes Given: 470
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

  • Not an expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9161
  • Delta-t is the salient metric.
  • Planet Eaarth
    • Design / Program Associates
  • Liked: 617
  • Likes Given: 320
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

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 215
  • I hope that you relish Tranya as much I
  • Liked: 2
  • Likes Given: 1
PS comparing the work of MSL science team to Rorschach testing makes me see a troll in that inkblot  :P
;D

Offline RigelFive

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 215
  • I hope that you relish Tranya as much I
  • Liked: 2
  • Likes Given: 1
Quote
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 »

Tags: