Jul. 1st, 2008

tania: (Futurama: Professor: Scheming)
We don't have a TV point in our room, so we haven't been watching the news at all, so forgive me please if everyone else in the world has already heard about this.

The Phoenix Lander found WATER ICE on Mars!

http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/06/mars-phoenix-tw.html

More news from the same front includes a discussion on how NASA will go about detecting life on Mars (believe it or not, the current and near-future missions are not equipped to do so!): http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20080627/sc_space/willnasaeverfindlifeonmars;_ylt=AvHDKyZ9kg.s6dm1eoQ2hcSHgsgF

And analysis of the Martian soil proved that it had once interacted with liquid water and that the soil is currently still "friendly" (alkaline) enough to support life. Like, right now. You could grow asparagus in it. http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080627/ts_afp/usspacemars;_ylt=AvQzL91vkLvYcUBGMGsRkJmHgsgF

Aaaaand, scientists now have the capability to detect earth-sized planets around distant stars. Last I checked, they were only able to detect Jupiter-sized bodies so this is a BIG (or small?) step forward! The earth-sized planets mentioned in this article are too hot to support life, but now that we've got the technology, it's only a matter of time until we find a planet orbiting in the Goldilocks zone around its star - not too hot, not too cold, juuuuust right.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080616/ap_on_sc/sci_super_earths;_ylt=Am93l.gxpe2F_FkF5MdDjqOHgsgF

If there is only one scientific discovery I'd like to see happen in my lifetime, it's the discovery of life elsewhere in the universe. I'm not a UFO nut; I don't buy that we've had unnoticed "visitors" for decades, but I am very open to the possibility of life elsewhere. I want to be alive and kickin' the day our scientists find it. Oh, it would be gloriously convenient if that 'elsewhere' was Mars, right next door... Even if there is no current life on Mars, fossils or trace evidence of ancient life would give a generation of biologists a lifetime of new data to work from.

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Tania Walker

August 2008

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