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Thread: Touchdown!!

  1. #1 Touchdown!! 
    Forum Junior Zitterbewegung's Avatar
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    After NOT mixing up foot-pounds and newton-meters the NASA finally managed to acchieve touchdown of the Phoenix lander close to the martian North Pole.


    CONGRATULATIONS!


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  3. #2  
    Moderator Moderator Dishmaster's Avatar
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    Yes, it's quite an achievement considering that more than 50% of the Mars probes were lost. I hope it will find more than just gravel and crushed ice. Let's see how NASA will fool the public with wild speculations about life on Mars as soon as the probe will find organic molecules. Because this is all it can do. But there are lots of organic molecules - even quite complex ones - everywhere in open space, so I wouldn't be surprised to find them on Mars, too.


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  4. #3  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Do I take it from this that you are from the 'Mars is dead' school of thought? Negative feelings about Levin's experiment too?
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  5. #4  
    Forum Junior Zitterbewegung's Avatar
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    Yes, I also see this as an acchievement. And considering that this was a mission not using air-bags for landing but real thrusters made it more impressive.

    About the "Mars is dead" tidbit: I have a hard time figuring out how - under the circumstances on Mars - there might be the prerequisites for self-replicating molecules to form. I mean maximum temperatures even on young Mars were supposed to be 0°C on average. So in order to have liquid solvents those must have been extremely saline or acidic (SO2 from the early martian volcanoes comes to mind). I know that there are extremophiles on earth that still thrive at -20°C and a pH value of around 1 but I doubt that those were the ideal conditions for RNA/DNA-like substances to form and be stable. Also the time of those balmy temperatures on Mars was considerably shorter than on earth, i.e. liquid on the martian surface seems to have existed for only 500 to 700 lillion years after formation. Time enough????
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  6. #5  
    Time Lord
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    Life on Mars is kinda impossible, maybe ever. But life in Mars... conditions are promising beneath the surface, no?. How deep, I wonder?

    Phoenix is a digger. :-D
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  7. #6  
    Moderator Moderator Dishmaster's Avatar
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    I only want be cautious not to jump quickly into overinterpreted conclusions. I have no idea, whether Mars is capable of sustaining life. It might well be possible. But "Phoenix" can definitely not give an answer to this question. As I said, it can only probe for organic molecules.
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  8. #7  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    I agree with your caution. However, I suspect that the Viking experiments, contrary to the consensus view, returned evidence for life. Equally, I would not be surprised if I turned out to be wrong in that suspicion.
    I am disappointed that following the VIking ambiguities NASA 'chickened out' and chose to focus instead on water and now organic molecules alone. I have never understood the rationale behind those decisions.
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  9. #8  
    Moderator Moderator Dishmaster's Avatar
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    Hi, here is something that might cheer you up!
    http://www.esa.int/esaMI/Aurora/index.html
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  10. #9  
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    There is strong evidence that when the Earth was one big ice ball or one endless lava lake, that microbial life persisted several miles below the surface. These life forms still can be found today in deep caverns or diamond mines. Phoenix isn’t equipped to find anything like this on Mars, however clues may turn up. Billions of Martian microbes could be brought back on the back of a postage stamp by the manned Mars mission if they exist. The ISS would be a perfect place to study them without threatening humanity.
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  11. #10  
    Forum Junior Zitterbewegung's Avatar
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    I also recall the headlines during the time of the Viking landers when there was a report citing that the Viking 1 or 2 returned data the hinted for the existence of life on Mars. They later on reversed themselves and said this was most likely an artefact.

    Hey, make no mistake, I AM really thrilled about this mission and looking forward to see some results but I am rather sceptical about the next "We found life on Mars" headlines in the usual tabloids. I mean even in the Atacama desert there are patches of soil that are totally sterile with no life whatsoever and the Atacama is the closest thing to Mars you can get. And yup, I know that there were microbes found as deep as 1 mile under the ocean floor, but in my oppinion those buggers somehow got transported there and adapted to ever more extreme conditions but they did not form there. And I am also aware of the fact that during some time on earth climate was so unfavorable that only in the deep sea there was liquid water left but there was still a source of energy provided by the middleoceanic ridges and underwater volcanoes while we do have evidence for the same happening on Mars.

    So let's wait and see and be happy that this one worked out peachy so far. So mucho brownie points for the mission controll guys.
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  12. #11  
    Forum Junior Zitterbewegung's Avatar
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    We found Little Green Men!! Take a look at this picture:




    They even forgot to put their Flying Saucer back in the Flying-Saucer-Port





    Amazin' stuff............

    But what really blows me away is this one here. The lander descending on its parachute in front of a giant crater, picture curtesy of NASA's MArs Reconnaisance Orbiter (MRO)


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