“Is it proof of life on Mars? Certainly not.”

Headline writers and some journalists are getting over-excited about the NASA press conference planned for 2pm EST [7pm GMT] today but, as the Guardian report points out, “If a newspaper headline ends in a question mark, the answer is almost always “no”.” Indeed the NASA press release stated, “NASA will hold a science update at 2 p.m. EST, Thursday, Jan. 15, to discuss analysis of the Martian atmosphere that raises the possibility of life or geologic activity.” [added emphasis]. ANYhoo.. the press conference should be streamed live online here. And, if you’re still awake, later tonight at 6pm EST [11pm GMT] there will also be an lecture by Dr. Steve Squyres Principal Investigator, Mars Exploration Rovers, as NASA celebrates the Mars Exploration Rovers 5th Anniversary – the lecture will also available online. In the meantime, via the Telegraph, here’s an ITN report on the Martian methane. Adds BBC report.

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  • cynic

    I agree with your cautionary comment re geological activity but the wording of the NASA website and the release seems to me to be veering towards the non-geological answer. They now need to test the isotope proportions and see if the methane is of recent or ancient origin.

    Looking at all the evidence and the location it has been found and the more recent findings of ice near the surface, I think its worth a tenner on a bet that within 5 years they announce that its biological in origin.

    If so I think we will see a real effort to gradually manage the release of that information rather than just come out with it. It would just be too big a shock to our egos!

  • cynic

    Ah…just re-read it too. The plumes seem to be seasonal in nature. That again pushes it just a little further towards the biological answer.

  • joeCanuck

    It certainly lifts my spirits at this miserable time in the Canadian year to think that there are little critters up there belching and farting.

  • Pete Baker

    cynic

    It’s certainly a possible explanation for the methane, and it may even be a probable one.

    But there are other possibilities and Nasa have a lot of work ahead if they are to be able to discount all other hypotheses, including ones they haven’t yet thought of, and prove a biological source.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    life on Mars. Can anyone harness this life to benefit humans, or is it just pie in the sky stuff?

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    Life on Mars?

    Well here’s what Bowie thinks!

    (BTW, pardon the lipstck and rouge, but one of the greatest English/British musicians and characters.)

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    Right here……

  • pauljames

    Umh

    The proof of alien life would expose the earth-centric conceit that we are all that matters in this universe. How would you view your question if someone was saying “How can we harness Humans to benefit Zargians?”

  • Dewi

    “Can anyone harness this life to benefit humans?”

    UMH – you are a self parody