Hypothetical Mars Thread (Life on Mars)

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Doug Miller, Jan 31, 2004.

  1. Doug Miller

    Doug Miller Supporting Actor

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    I know there's already the ongoing Mars thread, but I think this one is just off enough to warrant its own thread.

    Like a big portion of the world, I've been really interested in the whole Mars phenomenon. Like most kids, I used to dream of going into space. The constant search for traces of water have made me think over the last week:

    What if the Mars rovers came across evidence that life did exist on Mars? How would the world react to it, and better yet, would that knowledge even be made public or would the US shy away from announcing the discovery for fear of panic?

    That's a heady question. Think about it and let's discuss.
     
  2. Doug Miller

    Doug Miller Supporting Actor

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    I'll start.

    I honestly don't think the US would announce any kind of discovery until many years down the line. NASA wants nothing more than to confirm that life does in fact, or did in fact exist on other planets and solar systems. This kind of knowledge would blow peoples mind -- I mean think about it, do you belief other life exists(ed) "out there"? Personally, I think there is life out there, but I wonder how the public would react to actually knowing. I think the government (I'm not trying to create a giant conspiracy or anything here) would be happy enough to find water evidence on Mars so that hypothetically life could have exist. BUT, if an announcement that life did in fact exist on Mars, you would have to wonder aobut the potential implications this would have on the public. For example, if life is found to have existed, then the whole religious framework of society is challenged. (I'm not trying to get into a does God exist debate.)

    All of this said, when I say what if the rovers find evidence that life did exist, I'm not expecting the rovers to stumble on a 7-Eleven. I just think the possibility of fossilized evidence, even microscopic creaters embedded in rock is out there. I just hope when/if it's found that we actually here about it... although I guess we won't know if we don't hear anything, will we?

    Doug
     
  3. Mark Shannon

    Mark Shannon Screenwriter

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    Doug, haven't we already found fossilized evidence on Mars already? I'm not too sure, but wasn't that already determined.

    Also, why are they searching for water evidence on Mars? NASA already knows that Mars has two polar ice caps. Wouldn't it be correct to assume that those are made of frozen water. Or do they actually want to find the water so it can be tested. If so, why don't they just send the rovers to land on the poles, instead of elsewhere on the planet?
     
  4. Erik.Ha

    Erik.Ha Supporting Actor

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    I had a BIZARRE dream the other night along these lines... It was one of those dreams that lasts all night long, even after I woke up and went back to sleep a few times...

    In the dream, I was watching news coverage of pictures sent back from the second rover... the one that landed in the crater... In the side of the crater, there was what appeared to be a partially unearthed brick or cinder block wall. You know that staggered brick look? it was obviously the remnents of a long abandoned "man made" structure. That was the entire dream, OVER AND OVER... The image of the wall and the world's reaction to the discovery.

    My dad works at JPL, so that may be why I'm having dreams about this stuff, but I still think it was pretty strange since I NEVER have weird dreams.
     
  5. Michael Martin

    Michael Martin Screenwriter

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    At least two reasons come to mind:

    1. Safety - the poles, with ice and other land formations, would be extremely hazardous landing sites.

    2. Power - the rovers are solar powered, which means they need the maximum amount of sunlight possible. That translates to the equatorial regions.
     
  6. Doug Miller

    Doug Miller Supporting Actor

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    Michael --

    The solor powered part is a good point, but safety is a pretty lame reason since we're talking about robots. [​IMG]

    Erik --

    I've had similar dreams, but with me it's a bone fragment. Must be the pizza...
     
  7. Casey Trowbridg

    Casey Trowbridg Lead Actor

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    While you are talking about Robots, these things are not indestructable. I would think you do a lot more physical damage to the robots themselves if you land on turaine like that, and if a Robot or anything else suffers physical damage from the landing, or from trying to navigate rough areas, then it would be awfully damn hard to fix.

    As to the original questions, I will ignore the religious implications as that is not for discussion in this thread, but if evidence of life on Mars were found it wouldn't change my personal religious beliefs whatsoever.

    I'm not sure what the government would do or not, I mean on the one hand I could kind of see why they wouldn't say anything, what if it were to cause people to panic. Yet on the otherhand, this project is being covered on the news, and people are getting access to information all over the place, the general public knows that we've got things poking around on Mars. So, it only stands to reason that the general public would want to know the results of the findings. It might not look so good if the public wants to know the findings and the government says we're not telling. Doesn't mean that would be enough to stop them from keeping a secret, but it is something to consider.

    How would this change my life, in exactly 0 ways. I mean even if you can prove that there was life on Mars, it could be that the life that was there were single celled organisms, and not much more than that, life doesn't just mean humanoid or animal like beings. It could even have been plant life, the point is that the word life is an awful broad term scientifically speaking. So, I'd think well that's a cool discovery and I'd just move on with my life from there.

    Good discussion questions though.
     
  8. Michael Martin

    Michael Martin Screenwriter

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    I might have thought, that, too, until I watched the Nova special on the team that designed the rovers. These things, while tough enough, are not indestructible SUVS built for all terrains.

    Take a look here - specifically Chapter 4.
     
  9. Mark Shannon

    Mark Shannon Screenwriter

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    That's what I would think too. Those rovers probably have more moving parts than a 767. It always seems that whenever one of these rovers gets sent to the red planet, something always goes wrong within the first few days.
     
  10. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    Casey - having people panic always amuses me. What exactly - would/could anyone do about it - outside of going to their nearby place of worship and asking for a new answer?

    I think that the water residue is from when Mars was formed, as just like with Earth, it was a lot hotter once, wasn't it?

    Anyway, I'm still waiting for John Carter to show up. I can't understand why the studios haven't leaped at it.
     
  11. Casey Trowbridg

    Casey Trowbridg Lead Actor

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    Well, I never said that they'd have a just reason for panic, but I wouldn't underestimate the levels of paranoya found in people. I'm not saying it would be right, but I could just see people going, "Well, there once was life on Mars, and now there isn't so what happened to it? Are we next to become extinct? I'm not saying it would be a large percentage of the population or anything, but sometimes I am amazed at what people work themselves up over.
     
  12. Paul_Sjordal

    Paul_Sjordal Supporting Actor

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    Doug, I disagree with your assertion that the government would have any reason to not divulge evidence of extraterrestrial life. I disagree for the rather simple reason that they have not withheld such possible evidence in the past (the possible fossilized microorganism announced during the last administration).

    As for robots at the poles, I think safety is a non-issue. After all, the robots could be modified rather easily to cope with the ice fields likely to be found at the Martian poles.

    My own personal guess about the choices of landing sites would be
    • There are other experiments being performed besides the "is there life" experiments. Their needs also need to be factored in when selecting a landing site.
    • If you're looking for evidence of past life, you probably want to go to the places water used to be, not where it is now.
    • We still have yet to prove whether the surface geology of Mars was formed by water or lava. That's sorta step one to proving the existence of life, and proving that is probably not best done at the poles where the rock might be obscured by ice.
     
  13. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    NASA's funding woes would be over in an instant. Congress would approve a manned mission to Mars to be mounted immediately (apart from the perhaps doomed new Moon/Mars initiative). Humans would be walking on Mars within the decade, perhaps within five or six years.

    There would be no "cover-up" or "conspiracy of silence." The rush to announce the news in 1996 about AH00084 should be evidence enough of that. It would be the very culmination of NASA's very purpose.
     
  14. Andrew Testa

    Andrew Testa Second Unit

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    Jack's right. We fell all over ourselves to announce the testing results that pointed to the possibility of a Martian fossil. If direct evidence were found there'd be immediate news conferences to announce it, immediate budget requests, and at least three or four days of front page coverage. After that, when the science research kicked in and it got very technical and boring, people would forget about it completely. I've said this before in similar threads: unless something happens that directly intrudes on people's lives, they don't give a shit. Finding any signs of extraterrestrial lifew would be great for us in the space biz, send a few nutjobs off the edge, and cause the vast majority to pay attention for a few days and then go on with their normal routines.

    Andy
     
  15. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    There will be life on Mars within a 100 yrs from now. [​IMG]

    Andrew: How thorough is the sterilizing/decontamination program for those vehicles? And the British one? For if it isn't 500% safe, we can be certain that there already is life on Mars now - or perhaps it just died.


    Cees
     
  16. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    Cees, that sounds like the makings of a great sci-fi movie. We actually land there and get devoured by some huge mutant bacteria!

    Glenn
     
  17. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Cees, when the Apollo 12 astronauts landed in the Oceanus Procellerum in November 1969 (or however "Ocean of Storms" is spelled in Latin), their prime target was to retrieve parts of the unmanned Surveyor 3 spacecraft that had landed there three years earlier. When pieces of the robot were analyzed later on Earth, scientists discovered that a lone Earth microbe had survived the trip from Earth to the Moon and back again. Amazing.

    Those spacecraft are built in clean-room environments. But even the best efforts can't screen out every last microorganism.
     
  18. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    Well what about Roswell[​IMG]
     
  19. Andrew Testa

    Andrew Testa Second Unit

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    Cees,

    I'll have to look into the details, but any lander is now put through a decontamination routine in addition to the clean room assembly. Early vehicles like the lunar probes were not. One of the bigger fears with the failed Japanese orbiter was that since it had no orbiter it had not been decontaminated, and it's trajectory was uncontrolled enough that it might have impacted Mars rather than fly by. This is also why Galileo was destroyed by plunging into Jupiter. If it was uncontrolled in Jupiter orbit, it would eventually impact one of the icey moons and contaminate it.

    I'll look into the decontamination and repost here later.

    Andy
     

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