Friday, December 30, 2011

Searching for life on Mars: a human timeline

If I have learned one thing, it is that I truly love Infographics.

Anything that gives a visual breakdown of facts and just does it for me.  Just one more geeky thing about me, I suppose. 
Yesterday, Geeks Are Sexy posted an infographic from NYU about the history of the search for life on Mars.  You can see it for yourself at the link but here are what I found to be a few of the more interesting tidbits.
In a 1909 article in the New York Times, the legendary Nikola Telsa claimed that living beings on Mars were attempting to contact him through his wireless radio transmitters.  By 1925, it was determined that what were thought to be alien transmissions was actually static noise from Earth's own radios.  From there on out, the idea of life on Mars became a taboo subject in academia. Give Tesla a break.  Even a genius doesn't get it right every time.
In 1971, Bowie releases "Life On Mars."  Don't know if it's critical or germane to an astronomical timeline, but I like it.
The graph moves on through the Viking years, the photo of the now debunked "face," the 1996 microbial life controversy, and the prechlorates discovered a year ago.  The "future explorations" section of the timeline talks about the ESA's effort to send a rover to the Red Planet by 2016 that will hopefully be able to dig deep enough to find residual DNA traces or perhaps even life itself in the water reservoirs beneath the surface.  There is a proposed NASA mission for 2018 that would do much the same but that's all depending upon just how broke the good ol' U.S. of A. is by then. 
And no talk of manned missions to Mars.  I know, I know, we're a long way off from that but it just seems to me that if we stop talking about it there really will be no chance for a human expedition. 

As I keep thinking about it, Mars doesn't sound all that bad...and I'm certain there are plenty of people who would like to send me there.  Quiet.  Could get a lot of writing done.  No neighbors (or are there??).  Yeah yeah, I know.  Blah blah blah oxygen.  Blah blah blah radiation shielding.  Blah blah blah water.
Or then again, that last point might be resolved.

Now playing: "Brain Damage" by Pink Floyd.

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