We’re Not Ready for Life on Mars: NASA Chief
Bolts created by Aerospace Manufacturing will be used on Orion, a NASA-Lockheed Martin deep-space exploration vehicle that will carry a crew of four to destinations beyond low Earth orbit, like Mars.
The red, rocky planet has captivated the human imagination for centuries, and the more we learn about it the more interesting it becomes. Mars has similar geologic processes, and familiar geologic formations like volcanoes and canyons.
Convincing signs that Mars once held large quantities of liquid water have been shown by recent missions, from Mars Odyssey in 2001 to the Mars Exploration Rovers and the Mars Phoenix lander.
The next step is to determine whether or not Mars is currently suitable for life, if life ever existed there and if some lifeform exists there now. All remain unanswered.
We’re not ready
NASA’s next mission, the Mars 2020 Rover, which will launch next summer and land on the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021, will be the first mission to collect samples of Martian material to send back to Earth.
It may provide answers to those questions. But we may not be ready for the results, according to NASA’s chief scientist Jim Green.
If the biosignatures of life are discovered, Green says,”It will be revolutionary. It will start a whole new line of thinking. I don’t think we’re prepared for the results. We’re not.”
Among the deep questions that will gain sudden importance should life be discovered — what is our place in the universe? Is this new lifeform like us? How are we related?
If life is discovered, it will likely live below ground because the surface of Mars is believed to be radioactive. Researchers drilled miles into the Earth and were shocked to find more life there than on the surface. The same may be true on Mars.
In addition to searching for signs of life and looking for past habitable environments — irrefutable evidence of flowing water — the rover will also test oxygen production on the planet and monitor Martian weather to evaluate how future explorers would fare.
Learn more about the 2020 mission in the video below.
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