Friday, March 22, 2013

Left Side of the Aisle #100 - Part 12

And Another Thing #4: Curiosity finds chemicals for life on Mars

Taking our explorations from the sea out into space, we come to Mars, where NASA's Curiosity rover has carried out an analysis of a rock sample it recently collected - an analysis that shows that in its ancient past, Mars could have supported living things. Perhaps only microbes, but living things.

In the words of Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program,
A fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could have supported a habitable environment. From what we know now, the answer is yes.
I'm sure you heard about this, but it's worth mentioning here for a reason beyond the basic coolness factor. Let's be clear: First, Curiosity did not find life on Mars. Second, this doesn't mean there ever was life on Mars. Third, what is does mean is that the physical and chemical conditions that would allow for life were available on Mars, at least in the distant past.

Is there life anywhere out there? We don't know. But it does seem that every discovery we make - especially in light of the fact that there are now nearly 1000 known planets outside our solar system and NASA's Kepler mission has discovered about 3000 more possible planets to be checked out adn we've barely started looking - it seems that every discovery we make, even as it doesn't prove there is life elsewhere, keeps on increasing the chances for it.


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