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Thread: Curiosity Rover Finds Organics & Seasonal Methane Patterns On Mars

  1. #11
    Spock of Vulcan Ian Jeffrey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neomalthusian View Post
    I'm not a fan of the fantasies that spin off from space exploration ideas.
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  2. #12
    Southern Strategy Liberal OldGaffer's Avatar
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    Massive exploration and travel by humans in the outer reaches of the Solar System or farther is not feasible with current technology. We need a major breakthrough in propulsion technology....Warp Drive, anyone?

  3. #13
    Southern Strategy Liberal OldGaffer's Avatar
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    The Voyager spacecraft did the distance between Earth and Pluto in about 12.5 years, although, neither spacecraft actually flew past Pluto. And the Pioneer spacecraft completed the journey in about 11 years.
    Then you have to come back to Earth.....

  4. #14
    Radical Centrist BigLeRoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neomalthusian View Post
    Almost certainly? Oh I don't know, I've heard it gets up to a balmy -243 degrees Fahrenheit. But I guess the 500 mph winds probably make it feel chillier.



    Developing tech that enables probes to be sent up cost-effectively is interesting if it advances science to help us understand how life spontaneously develops, or other mysteries. That's about as far as I go with it. But I'm not a fan of the fantasies that spin off from space exploration ideas.
    Right. I'm mostly a proponent of the robotic exploration of the Solar System. If you want to shut that down, then you've got a ferocious fight on your hands from me. But I don't think Americans are going to be going to Mars. I don't think the government will do it, and I don't think Elon Musk will do it. In fact, I don't think Americans will go back to the Moon. Supposedly, the Trump administration is keen to send Americans back to the Moon, but they're not really budgeting for it, and by the time frame when we'd be doing it, say 2024-2028, I think America is going to be in so much trouble it will take all we can do just to keep the space program up and running at all. I don't think the Europeans will do it, either.

    Here's who I think WILL do it: China. Xi Jinping is the man with the plan. The Chinese are quite determined to reclaim their place as the scientific and technological leader of the world, a role they held for almost two thousand years, from ~500 BC to ~1500 AD. Xi Jinping is much smarter than Donald Trump, you know. Xi Jinping understands that quantum computers are much more important than steel. Xi Jinping understands that solar panels are much more important than coal. He 'gets' that robots are more important than railroads. Mr. Trump has all of that backasswards, because he's still living in the 19th century, intellectually. So at some point in the mid 2030's to early 2040's, I think China will be the nation to send humans to Mars, and they'll do it in part precisely to demonstrate to the world that they have, in fact, become the leading scientific nation, just as America sent men to the Moon in the late 1960's as kind of a propaganda effort against the Soviet Union.

    Anyway, that's what I think. America is fading into the dustbin of history. We had our day in the Sun. A decade from now, it will clear to almost everyone that China is pulling well ahead of us.
    Last edited by BigLeRoy; 8th June 2018 at 10:08 PM.
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  5. #15
    Radical Centrist BigLeRoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldGaffer View Post
    Massive exploration and travel by humans in the outer reaches of the Solar System or farther is not feasible with current technology. We need a major breakthrough in propulsion technology....Warp Drive, anyone?
    In truth, I think we need a breakthrough in propulsion technology even to send humans to Mars. We need to reduce the travel time from months to weeks, to minimize the risks of radiation exposure en route. It is a very real risk to the health of the humans on board, and of course especially so if there happens to be a solar storm during the voyage.
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  6. #16
    Radical Centrist BigLeRoy's Avatar
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    Here's another commentary on this story that some folks might find interesting:

    https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/08/opini...ine/index.html

  7. #17
    Veteran Member EnigmaO01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigLeRoy View Post
    The Mars Curiosity Rover has made some pretty significant discoveries on Mars, just announced today, and described in a couple of articles in the latest issue of Science:


    https://www.sciencedaily.com/release...0607142916.htm

    In the second paper, scientists describe the discovery of seasonal variations in methane in the Martian atmosphere over the course of nearly three Mars years, which is almost six Earth years. This variation was detected by Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite.

    Water-rock chemistry might have generated the methane, but scientists cannot rule out the possibility of biological origins. Methane previously had been detected in Mars' atmosphere in large, unpredictable plumes. This new result shows that low levels of methane within Gale Crater repeatedly peak in warm, summer months and drop in the winter every year.


    LeRoy: This is all HIGHLY interesting, and I think a biological origin for these seasonal methane patterns is not only possible, but may even be within the bounds of probable. We will need to DIG DEEPER into the Martian soil to find any evidence of currently existing life. The Insight probe is on its way to Mars currently, on schedule for a November landing, and it is prepared to dig deeper than any previous Martian probe, and it will be followed by the Exo Mars rover in 2020, which will have much more advanced capabilities for searching for life.
    Would't thawing of methane deposits account for increases in the gas during warmer months?

  8. #18
    Veteran Member EnigmaO01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigLeRoy View Post
    It's not clear that this is true: Uranus smells like farts!: Uranus smells like farts due to hydrogen sulfide, scientists confirm - Business Insider

    The planet Uranus has a lot of methane and hydrogen sulfide in its atmosphere, which would give it a really, ah, pungent smell. But no one really expects to find life there. It is almost certainly simply too cold.

    Saturn's moon Titan is a more interesting case. It has large lakes of liquid methane and ethane and other hydrocarbons, and there is certainly a LOT of interesting organic chemistry going on at the surface and in the lower atmosphere of Titan. Which we should definitely explore with a follow-up mission to the Huygens probe that was part of the Cassini mission that just recently ended its long observations of the Saturn system. We would like to get a probe FLOATING in the largest lake on Titan, which is the size of the Caspian Sea here on Earth! Probably won't happen until the 2030's. Titan is cold, and it would not be 'life as we know it', but we are still babes in the wood when it comes to this stuff, so.....


    But on Mars, this seasonal pattern of methane in the atmosphere is hard to explain as resulting from purely geochemical origins. It would actually be much easier to explain if it is, in fact, of biological origin. Which is why I think it's pretty exciting.
    Wouldn't it be perfectly logical that uranus would smell like shit from time to time?
    Last edited by EnigmaO01; 13th June 2018 at 05:48 AM.

  9. #19
    Radical Centrist BigLeRoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EnigmaO01 View Post
    Would't thawing of methane deposits account for increases in the gas during warmer months?
    Yes, you know, after I posted that I came across an article in The Wall Street Journal (of all places) where some scientists at NASA were suggesting a non-biological origin for the methane is quite possible. So, gosh, I think we won't settle this until we just go there and DIG, and I mean dig DEEP, and then do some careful analysis on whatever we find. We may not get final answers until we do a sample-return mission from Mars, which they talk about doing in the 2020's. In fact, the 2020 Mars Rover will be collecting some samples to be possibly collected later for return to Earth.

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