Now its the 3,600,000,000 year old acidic belief system on trial. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter by virtue of the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) beamed back evidence that some spots like the crater Isidis are less acidic and life gain a green toehold. The images are under review as the carbonates would have dissolved or dissapated long ago and not shown up for their Orbiter DeMille-like closeups. What it really means is a tiny step closer to rationalizing a fantastically expensive but scientifically prolific trip to Mars. Manned or unmanned just makes the stakes that much higher because they need a really powerful rocket... Out of the endless loop, comes proof that the mineral is there giving hope that missions even past Mars are possible.
"Carbonate, like the baking soda in your refrigerator, dissolves quickly when exposed to acid," said study leader and Brown University professor Bethany Ehlmann yesterday at an American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.
"So the fact that … carbonate is still present means that the waters flowing through [Nili Fossae] must not have been acid" and could therefore have been conducive to life.
Bacteria and microbes on a meteorite that plopped down to Earth help the hypothesis that life could exist on the red planet. Right now its just a theory that is gaining a foothold as more discoveries are made. The Phoenix Lander and the Energizer twin Mars Rovers have paid for themselves a hundred times over with their discoveries. With each new discovery and scoops full of analyzed dirt more questions arise out of the oxidized red dust. But NASA's next rover that could settle the life (bacteria/microbe) on Mars question, the Mars Science Laboratory rover, is experiencing a two year delay from 2009 to 2011 due to design challenges. That's a big money fix in the works. Spirit and opportunity have taken full effect of the solar panels to beam back photographic evidence. (Photo Opportunity on Mars 2004 NASA)
Now where ever will the financing come from in a totally broke USA to fund the next Rover, Lander, Pathfinder steps? I am sure President Obama will get a group of science money people to find money on Earth to support life on Mars. An international coalition, oh yeah, the International Space -Hotel- Station needs some new bunk beds too. Russia, we'd like to book room for a party of six... Obama is going to find a spare billion somewhere in the name of science and carbonates on Mars.Passion for Mars: Intrepid Explorers of the Red Planet enlists the imaginations of famous planet watchers to envision what it would be like or take to live there. NASA has finite resources and Mars aficionados are planning to keep the red planet at the top of the list someway, somehow. My guess, some sort of gravitational knowledge pull with a black hole that sucks in the naysayers. Andrew Chaikin writes a biography of the current and future of the red planet that will fire the imagination rockets into our own Habitable Zone in space.