• EWJ

NASA to look for microbial life on Mars

By: Charles Xue


The first Martian robot that roamed the red planet had only one goal in mind: to find a life form. 23 years later, NASA is still looking.


When scientists initially examined the first samples, they pulled the beer and vodka and partied. They were adamant that proof had just been found. However when examined further, the data was not what it seemed. When an experiment to detect organic molecules was finally carried out, they found nothing.


Now, a new robot named Perseverance has been sent to Mars to scour the red planet in hopes of the discovery of life. Since the Viking missions in the 1970s, there was only one possible life form: microbes, which have been found to survive Mars-like conditions. Now, the SUV sized rover will be sent to Mars to solve one of humanity’s greatest questions: Does life exist elsewhere?


If Perseverance finds even the most obvious evidence of microbial life, there will be no celebration; not until NASA properly identifies the sample and confirms that it is indeed life. Even then, the lifeforms found might have already died, fossilized within the red soil.


But, on the off chance that NASA can find life, it brings up a plethora of ethical questions. What should we do with life forms? What kind of rights do they have? However, in the end, ancient life, such as bacteria, seems more likely than complex life.


A couple billion years ago, Mars was probably warm, with enough water to support life. So far, spacecraft have discovered dried up waterways, with the Curiosity rover finding evidence of organic molecules in the soil in 2011. Who knows, maybe microbes lived in that muggy environment, as they do on Earth.


But, Mars is definitely not suitable for life on Earth. It’s cold and dry, and it has an atmosphere thinner than paper and a non-existent magnetic field. On top of that, there is beautiful radiation raining from the sky like invisible bullets.


https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2020/07/mars-rover-nasa-perseverance/614752/


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