Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mars could have once supported life

Earlier this week, NASA announced a finding from the Curiosity rover.

Mars could have supported microbial life in the past.  This statement is based upon rock samples taken on Mars that confirm the presence of chemical compounds necessary for basic lifeforms.  This news comes as a bit of yawner for Mars enthusiasts as this has been long suspected.  It is, however, the first time that the suspicion can be verified.

The life-sustaining conditions were found in an ancient strata of rock called "gray Mars," partially oxidized sediment that suggests that the surface of the planet was not colored red but gray and the rocky soil to clay-like matter. 

At the same time, even an announcement such as this is subject to being overturned.  Remember the "life found on Mars meteorite" brouhaha from 1996?  Oh how quickly that came to be least in many circles.  It is also critical to note that Curiosity did not find evidence of life currently on Mars.  There have yet to be any conclusive finds of organic compounds.

But does this or does this not mean one way or the other that Mars currently has life?  Again, NASA isn't saying much on the matter.  We do know that the planet is far drier and colder than it was in the past, making it seem less hospitable to the likelihood of life.  There are thought to be, however, caverns deep beneath the surface that may still have water.  This opens up a whole lot of other doors in terms of the search for life.

It would be easy to go on an emotional and madcap bender, proclaiming that it will be only a matter of time before current life is found or that these findings are the first steps in verifying a civilization once thrived there on the Red Planet.  The rational end of the brain tells me this would be foolhardy in the face of the data.

Still, a little hope would be nice these days.

Sorry.  Cutting this post short.  Internet connection is really wonky today.

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