Mars Life in Embalming Fluid?

first_imgA researcher with the Mars Express project claims to have found formaldehyde along with methane in exceptional amounts, reports News@Nature.  Since methane is destroyed by radiation in hundreds of days, and formaldehyde in several days, there is either a geological source for it, or it comes from living organisms in the soil, Vittorio Formisano claims.    Another recent Mars Express finding, reported by Mars Daily and others, is evidence for large water reservoirs near the Martian equator.  This is of “extraordinary importance,” the article says, because up till now most of the H20 on Mars was locked in polar ice.  This is giving hopes for at least past Martian life a boost; see also the 16 Feb and 23 Feb stories on the New Scientist website.    Other scientists are not so sure; only 25% of scientists at the first Mars Express Conference accepted the idea that life exists on Mars now, reports Space.Com.  Most think Formisano’s measurements are on the borderline of detection and questionable.  One skeptic thinks such claims come from the faith, not fact: “We all want to believe in something,” says Yuk Yung, a planetary geologist from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.  “Even as scientists we’re not completely objective, especially about something we’ve worked on for ten years.  There’s enormous pressure to deliver, and under this pressure you can easily believe things that are unbelievable.”   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)Dr. Yung thinks the spectral match is not convincing, and doesn’t believe it.  Formisano claims to have convinced other skeptics to his position, though.    Even if the source of these gases is geological, not biological, the measurements will be a surprise if confirmed, reports News@Nature:The discovery of martian methane last year excited scientists, who said that there were two likely sources of the gas: active geological processes beneath the planet’s surface or a population of methane-generating microbes.  Because Mars was long thought to be a dead planet, devoid of both life and geothermal activity, either prospect came as a revelation.Some recent Mars Express images suggest that the planet’s volcanos were active recently – and could be active today.    Meanwhile, news agencies have had to retract reports circulated last month that NASA had found strong evidence for life on Mars; see Mars Daily.  This claim made its way onto BadAstronomy.com.Have scientists become midwives of myth?  Are they being pressured to deliver cute little astrobiological packages?  Is that what the Mars Express program is all about?  We don’t want scientists to give birth to speculation.  We want them to observe the facts, and report them with honesty and integrity.  If Mars is burping gas, fine; that’s interesting enough, and doesn’t require a baby.    Actually, it would be very interesting.  Notice that the article said that “Mars was long thought to be a dead planet.”  Why?  Because according the Law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be altered, the solar system is 4.5 billion years old.  This dogma has led naturalistic geologists to conclude that Mars, with a much smaller volume than Earth, should have long ago cooled down, and therefore could no longer sustain volcanic activity.  If it indeed has volcanos active now, more things are going to erupt than natural gas and embalming fluid.(Visited 10 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img

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