Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Mars Revelation

Mars revelations come thick and fast.  Rather than just inflate the rank of this article on Computerworld , I've been doing a bit of thinking about it.

See, originally, febrile, fertile imaginations such as ER Burroughs populated the red planet (and a few of the others) with teeming thriving life.  Of course, they didn't have it as good as Earth, well, okay, as good as certain fertile parts of Earth - but there sure was such a solar system out there.  Venusian, Jovian, Martian - you name it... You can argue that once astronomy proved that Mars = Venus = Jupiter = "A planet' = Earth, then Burroughs and Verne and the space opera writers that followed merely extrapolated as far as "Those are planets, Earth is a planet, Earth has life - hmmm..." and took it from there.

Fast forward to as far as we can go on this particular tape, being that article above.  It's the culmination of what has now become a fairly large body of research data being analysed, and in pretty short order, we were informed that Mars had the right chemicals for life.   Except water.  And atmosphere.  And temperature....

But those groovy little 'bots we sent up there sent back a neat series of numbers, and now we're told that not only does Mars have water in the form of subsurface ice, it has snow as well.  Slowly, we're having to come to the realisation that Mars may well have had life. Bear in mind, the article also states that the presence of free water is probably almost as far back as the birth of our solar system.  And it has no answer to the temperature problem either.

But we do know of extremophile bacteria that live happily in permafrost, others that live in superheated steam vents, yet others that thrive only when shielded from oxygen, so we know that life will find a way no matter what conditions.

But the revelation for me came in the closing words of the article.  "scientists are hoping to activate a microphone to record sounds on Mars before power fails" - because we do all know that sound can only be transmitted in a medium, it could not be heard if there is no atmosphere.  So when will we see the first Martian on a robotic webcam?

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