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Go Science!!
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.
2 have fought ~ fight the power!
Comments
thelauderdale From: thelauderdale Date: July 1st, 2008 11:20 am (UTC) (Link)
But we already knew there was ice on Mars, didn't we? Is it that we didn't know it was H20-ice? That's interesting about it still being alkaline though - that is way surprising...
bizarreoptimism From: bizarreoptimism Date: July 1st, 2008 02:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
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.

The earth-sized planets mentioned in this article are too hot to support life ...


Maybe it's because I watch so much sci-fi, but what never fails to baffle me in our quest for extraterriestrial life is that, while our location may be "extra," we still insist on searching for life based on terriestrial ideas. I mean, what do they mean, the planets they've found are "too hot" to support life?? How on earth do we KNOW that they're too hot? Isn't it entirely possible that there's a lifeform that could have _adapted_ to temperatures at that extreme, on another planet? We have lifeforms here that can live in the coldest, most crushing depths of the sea, creatures that by our regular definitions should not be able to exist -- and yet they do. Oxygen used to be a poisonous gas, and now it's needed by most life forms on the planet. "Life finds a way" and all that. Isn't that the very definition of evolution?

I just wonder if maybe it'll take us a lot longer to detect life on other planets if we keep searching for life that could only exist on _Earth_. Why _couldn't_ a lifeform adapt on a planet without water, or a planet with a -200 degree climate, or in the heart of a star? We have no idea how life even WORKS, how it even gets started, not really -- so who are we to say that Earth-like conditions are needed for other planets to support life?

Sorry, and maybe I'm missing something -- but the lack of imagination on this drives me NUTS. I keep thinking of that Calvin and Hobbes comic: "Scientists come up with this theory that space is filled with invisible atomic particles, and what 'cool' name do they come up with for it? 'Dark matter.' DUUUUH!"
2 have fought ~ fight the power!