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Thread: Mars robots may have destroyed evidence of life

  1. #1 Mars robots may have destroyed evidence of life 
    Join Date
    May 2008
    HAVE Mars landers been destroying signs of life? Instead of identifying chemicals that could point to life, NASA's robot explorers may have been toasting them by mistake.

    Some have suggested that organics were cleansed from the surface by naturally occurring, highly reactive chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide. Then last year, NASA's Phoenix lander, which also failed to detect organics on Mars, stumbled on something in the Martian soil that may have, in effect, been hiding the organics: a class of chemicals called perchlorates.

    At low temperatures, perchlorates are relatively harmless. But when heated to hundreds of degrees Celsius they release a lot of oxygen, which tends to cause any nearby combustible material to burn. For that very reason, perchlorates are used in rocket propulsion.

    The Phoenix and Viking landers looked for organic molecules by heating soil samples to similarly high temperatures to evaporate them and analyse them in gas form. When Douglas Ming of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and colleagues tried heating organics and perchlorates like this on Earth, the resulting combustion left no trace of organics behind. Ming's team presented their results at the recent Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston.


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  3. #2  
    Forum Sophomore
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    May 2009
    South Africa
    I had a very similar view to this but had no proof or evidence(that we were not seeing life because of the way we were searching for it)

    I thought that a lot of people in their ignorance believe that because as of yet(what i like to describe as taking a small step on a very large planet the same as taking a few steps in our largest empty lands where minimal to no life exists, then claiming there is no life on earth; I think we have done a similar thing to the planet mars, and I wouldn't be surprised if a little mistake like this would mess up all the attempts we have made to discover life)

    I think the chances of life to surprise us and show just how tough it is, will happen in the very near future

    well we can definitely keep hoping

    interesting article and definitely worth the read

    Just here to Learn =)

    Not Thinking is a sign of laziness, everyone has to make a choice at some point in their lives, either they reach a degree of non thinking where being stupid is just easier or they start thinking and enjoy the life they have now
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  4. #3  
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    May 2009
    Perhaps the next lander/rover will utilize a different technique, one less destructive to the sample. Any ideas what technique could be used?
    I think...therefore, I think I am.
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  5. #4  
    Forum Masters Degree Numsgil's Avatar
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    Jan 2009
    Bring it back to Earth and see if super intelligent aliens take over the secret government base where it's stored That's what always let's us know in the movies.
    "A witty saying proves nothing." - Voltaire
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