What’s Going On, On Mars

fafff7027ff0d95851f3bdcaadac6942Leonard David of LiveScience.com seems to be on the uppity regarding some “buzz” about what’s going on off-world, namely on the world of Mars.  He reports that the buzz is related to some “provocative new news” regarding life on the planet.

Provocative enough to warrant alerting the White House to new evidence for the “potential for life,” as reported by Craig Covault AW&ST, and noted by David.

The potential for the life definition that is floating around the various mission control and analysis centers seems to be two-fold.

    • Are the basic building blocks of life existent, in a usable capacity, by some known organisms operating is such similar harsh conditions on Earth?

– Or –

  • Can we simply skip the building blocks all together and provide evidence that life did exist or does exist on Mars? The former being through fossilized remains or certain life proving signatures in the experiments.

The conditions upon which NASA sent Phoenix to Mars, specifically to the polar region, seem to warrant the latter of the above two conditionals.  David phrases it this way, that the data sent to the White House:

“…relates to why the Phoenix Mars lander was sent to its arctic landing spot in the first place: To learn about whether or not Mars could be or has been an address for life.” (Emphasis mine)

Though this all seems rather hush-hush for some life-altering current affairs (life-altering because life, or such, on Mars means with certain definitiveness that Life exists in the Universe).  David notes that it’s not being reported and being kept under-wraps by the Mars scientists because of an upcoming paper “and press release that appears likely to pop out of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and its Science magazine.”  There are a few things that lead me to believe that the scientists are only looking at the building blocks of life, though; which would still be significant but where there are building blocks, the question remains is there a maker? 

One point is the fact that they are waiting to publish their findings in a journal.  All-in-all peer review for experiments conducted millions of miles away isn’t exactly doable.  But with the aftermath of the 1996 Mars Arctic Rock findings, I commend NASA and colleagues for going so far as to wait for the Journal publication.  But if there is or was life on Mars, I can believe the White House notification, but waiting for a Journal entry seems like one jump too many for such a finding… either there is or there isn’t; the question of life cannot be left to circumstantial evidence that needs to be “reviewed.”

Whichever the case may be – building blocks to life, or life itself, I’m sure that the buzz is warranted and time will tell.  If the White House has already been alerted to the evidence, the paper, and more so “press conference” are already in the works, an announcement should come quite soon.  Can we expect an 8.8.8 announcement?  Would NASA risk such an announcement against the better judgment and letting the ‘well-scheduled’ Olympics play out?  If NASA had better judgment I’d say that’d be a moot point, but we all know how that one ends.

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