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snabald
2004-Mar-16, 03:18 PM
http://space.com/scienceastronomy/mars_fossils_040316.html

With all the talk of fossils going on, I found this quite an interesting read.

8)

Maksutov
2004-Mar-16, 03:37 PM
http://space.com/scienceastronomy/mars_fossils_040316.html

With all the talk of fossils going on, I found this quite an interesting read.

8)


The tell-tale clues of water left behind hint that some spots on Mars did have a persistent wet look that might have been sociable to extraterrestrial creatures.

I found this rather confusing. Are they assuming that any life found would be from off Mars? And the use of "extraterrestrial" seems out of context. What's the new usage, "extraarestrial"?

ToSeek
2004-Mar-16, 04:07 PM
I found this rather confusing. Are they assuming that any life found would be from off Mars? And the use of "extraterrestrial" seems out of context. What's the new usage, "extraarestrial"?

Martian critters would be extraterrestrial, right? I think that's what they're saying, though I admit it's confusing.

mario
2004-Mar-16, 06:01 PM
Isn't any living being that doesn't originate from Terra "extraterrestrial"? As in, "not from Earth"? When we eventually send people to Mars, would they be "extramartian"?

I think the general term for a being not from any given planet would be "exobiological entity".

calliarcale
2004-Mar-18, 02:11 PM
Isn't any living being that doesn't originate from Terra "extraterrestrial"? As in, "not from Earth"? When we eventually send people to Mars, would they be "extramartian"?

I think the general term for a being not from any given planet would be "exobiological entity".

I think they meant exactly what they said -- extraterrestrial life, which would include life native to Mars.

ToSeek
2004-Mar-23, 05:11 PM
MSNBC fossil article (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4480097), written by our own James Oberg.

snabald
2004-Mar-23, 05:29 PM
MSNBC fossil article (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4480097), written by our own James Oberg.

=D> Great article!!!

Irishman
2004-Mar-24, 12:11 AM
Comment on the article by Oberg...


Another NASA geologist, and an old friend, chortled as he recounted the official reaction to questions the week before about the millimeter-long “curly macaroni,” which was seen in a cross section after Opportunity dug a hole into the rock. It not only had a spiral shape but appeared to be at the head of a burrow.

“This feature has the team in Pasadena squirming,” my old friend told me. “They want it to be an artifact [that is, not ‘real’].”

I'm a little hesitant about that remark. I don't know what insight that NASA geologist has to the Pasadena team, so it is hard to evaluate his judgement of their reaction. However, I am wondering about his characterization that they "want" it to not be a fossil.

The insight I have comes from my personal observation of Dr. Steve Squyres, both from the TV conferences, and more specifically from the in person talk I attended. The impression I get is not that they don't want things to be fossils or articles from life, but rather that they are extremely cautious about over extending and jumping to conclusions. Another quote from the article:


But even in private, most NASA scientists cautioned against overinterpretation of suggestive shapes. “I would be extremely cautious about ascribing biological significance to any features that may be found in the rock,” one told me.

Squyres said practically the same thing. Especially with regards to something at the lower end of the resolution of the cameras.

And another:

And aside from the junk that the two rovers brought with them and strewed across the landscape (didn’t the NASA science team expect to be confused by some of that?),

Yes, the scientists did and do anticipate the debris from their equipment interfering with the science. That is the unfortunate but unavoidable consequence of sending exploration vehicles. The process of getting your equipment there introduces some level of "contamination" that can be mitigated but not completely avoided. Thus the need for caution in interpretation of results.

Consider the highly publicized and controversial results a few years ago when the NASA team announced evidence for microfossils from an meteorite. They outlined a line of investigation and a number of reasons why they conclude the cause of the strange shapes was life, but so far the jury (rest of the scientific community) is still out. I think this team is trying to be cautious and not step into the quagmire of overexended and unprovable conclusions. And rightly so.

Thus to say they want it to be an artifact from the RAT and not a fossil is probably a bit unfair. Rather, they want to eliminate other more mundane explanations before concluding it is signs of life.

skrap1r0n
2004-Mar-24, 12:44 AM
I would say that any organism not from that particular planet would be considered xenobiologic.

it works no matter where the stranger is from or where the stranger is.