Ever since the U.S. and Europe first sent probes to Mars,the big question has been: is there life there? Manyscientists think that life on Earth was "seeded" by bacteriaarriving from Mars on asteroids. Yesterday, NASA scientistswere said to be claiming that theyhave found strong evidence of life on Mars, hidden out ofsight, and the European Space Agency said that there is muchmore methane (believed to be a byproduct of livingorganisms) in the atmosphere than previously thought, andthat life on Mars is highly likely. In a stunning pressrelease distributed by NASA today, the Space Agency claimsthat its scientists are not, in fact, preparing any reportthat suggests that there may be life on Mars.
NASA has a long-standing reputation for taking a fundamentalstance that there is no life on Mars. In fact,Unknowncountry.com has learned that NASA scientists werepreparing a paper for the science journal Nature that wouldhave stated that there is a possiblity that life exists incaves and deep crevasses on the red planet.
NASA management appears to have leaped into action todeny this. However, the European Space Agency takes nosuch position about the matter, and ESA scientists continueto say that life on Mars is probable.
Dr. Vittorio Formisano, of the Institute of Physics andInterplanetary Science in Rome, first stated his belief thatmethane, and possibly life, might be found on Mars onDreamland last July. Now he says that there appears to bemore methane on Mars than previously thought, and that it islikely that there are microbes in the Martian soil.
Unknowncountry subscribers can listen to Linda Howe'shistoric interview with Dr. Formasino in the July 3, 2004Dreamland archived in our subscriber section. If you wish tosubscribe,click here to getstarted.
Brian Berger reports in space.com that NASA scientists CarolStoker and Larry Lemke have submitted their findings to thepeer-reviewed journal Nature. Stoker and Lemke haven't found direct proof of life on Mars,but they have discovered methane signatures and other signsof possible biological activity that are similar to thoserecently discovered in caves here on Earth. They think thatthe organisms living on Mars have developed unusualstrategies that allow them to exist in extreme conditions.Life exists in similar conditions in places here on Earth.They say that the methane being emitted from the planet'ssurface is a sign that there is an underground atmospherethat can sustain life.
NASA's press release states, in full:
NASA STATEMENT ON FALSE CLAIM OF EVIDENCE OF LIFE ON MARS
"News reports on February 16, 2005, that NASAscientists from Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.,have found strong evidence that life may exist on Mars areincorrect.
"NASA does not have any observational data from any currentMars missions that supports this claim. The work by thescientists mentioned in the reports cannot be used todirectly infer anything about life on Mars, but may helpformulate the strategy for how to search for martian life.Their research concerns extreme environments on Earth asanalogs of possible environments on Mars. No research paperhas been submitted by them to any scientific journalasserting martian life."
Right now, NASA has no plans to send a lander to Marsequipped with a drill to dig beneath the surface and,hopefully, find evidence of life. However in 2009, they willlaunch a new rover that will range farther than itspredecessors and sniff the air for methane, thus insuringthat they will not continue to be unable to obtain definiteevidence one way or another regarding life on the red planet.
In 2002, famed author Arthur C. Clarke offered thesuggestion that the Mars 'trees' should be observed more closely, butNASA dismissed the idea, saying that the objects wereprobably a frost-related feature.
Talk about alien life forms: What in the world was thetwelve footmonster that emerged from a crashed spacecraft in Virginiain 1952?
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