Sounds promising. Is methane a definitive proof of life? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#0000ff"><em>"SCE to AUX" - John Aaron, curiosity pays off</em></font></p> </div>
<font color="yellow">"Is methane a definitive proof of life?"</font><br /><br />No. But discovery of the methane source(s) will tell us something about Mars that was not previously known. The more we see of Mars, the more interesting it becomes. Of course the most fantastic discovery would be life. But there are many exciting things being seen and yet to be seen on Mars besides life. The provacative <i>possibility</i> that life may eventually be found adds import to some of the recent discoveries, but I find myself drawn to the thrill of discovery on Mars regardless of the chances of finding life. I am certain that the MERs will not find life on Mars, but that doesn't stop me from checking their progress every day and does not diminish my thrilling in each of their new discoveries. The emerging <b>geological</b> complexities of Mars are facinating in their own right. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
Hear, hear, and I would add that, for me, a finding that there is no life on Mars would be as interesting as discovering it there. Did life once exist and went extinct? Or did it never gain a foothold there? Is it only beneath the surface? If there is/was life, did it originate from earth or arise independently? Resolving these questions one way or the other will enable us to much more clearly understand what life's limits are, and thus contribute enormously to gaining some ground on the bigger questions of how common life might be outside our solar system. These wonderful machines are just the vanguard of a fleet of robots that will answer these questions over the coming decades. It is an exciting time.
<font color="yellow">"...a finding that there is no life on Mars would be as interesting as discovering it there."</font><br /><br />Finding no sign of current or past life on Mars would certainly put a constraint on the range of conditions under which life can develop. I view Mars as almost a controlled experiment for the necessary conditions for life to develop. Its past has similarities and differences with Earth's. Are the past similarities enough to allow for life's origin, as on Earth? Are the differences enough to prohibit the past origin of life on Mars? One thing is for sure. Finding no life whose origin is uniquely martian will make earthly life all the more special. And leave the mystery: How narrow and precise is the set of circumstances needed for life's origin? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
"Of course the most fantastic discovery would be life."<br /><br />Actually, discovering microbial life would IMHO be of lesser importance than discovering something that would cause a "goldrush" to mars and consequentially humanity getting off this rock.<br />We have ample opportunities to discover life in the universe once we ourselves have become truly spacefaring.<br /><br /><br />
<font color="yellow">"...something that would cause a 'goldrush'..."</font><br /><br />What sort of thing do you have in mind? Keep in mind the huge transport costs. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
Thanks, Space.com, for the great pictures which accompany your news article about the Mars Express data from the 36th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Great big color ones, all in one spot! Good news article, too!<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>