In a few weeks the Mars Science Laboratory will land on Sol-3 and begin its mission to search for life. Code named Curiosity; the rover was launched in November of 2011 and has been travelling through space for 8 months. Its mission is to search for life and investigate the Martian climate and geology for future manned missions to the planet. This is incredibly exciting for a space geek like me who’s been dreaming of living on Mars for quite some time. Curiosity is quite a bit bigger than other rovers and equipped with instruments much more sensitive than other missions. Hopefully NASA will use it to confirm past findings from other missions.
What findings? Well, some people believe life was already found on Mars. You see, data is a funny thing; if you can’t read it properly, you see nothing but noise. As an example, the first exoplanet was discovered using a special technique, and when the data was looked over, it turns out we had recorded evidence of several planets; we just didn’t know what we were looking for.
Back to Viking and its life signs. Turns out, 1 out of 4 tests were positive for life. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I got a positive result on a medical test, I would damn sure check again. For whatever reason, we’ve waited 36 years to double check. The data was also tested based on what we understood of life at the time, and since then it’s grown. (I’m so punny). So, we have new criteria and better instruments. Let’s just hope they don’t land in the desert.
Speaking of landing, Mars has a lot of ground to cover. It has roughly the same land mass as earth. There are many places on earth you could land and have a hard time finding life. However, if I was a betting man I would check where there were signs of life. Again, for some reason we have ignored the giant clouds of methane that are in the Marian atmosphere. Being that methane is a by-product of life, I would think that would be a place to check.
I for one, will be awaiting details.