NASA finds iron globs, suggests water on Mars
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 01:09
NASA scientists believe they may have found proof that life existed on Mars, but marine science professor Jennifer Biddle said there is not enough evidence.
Pictures from the eight-year mission display spherical iron-rich globs on a sedimentary rock formation, according to a news release on NASA’s website. NASA scientists said the spheres were crunchy with soft cores and were formed in the presence of water.
Biddle said finding the globs, which resemble blueberries, is not the final answer about whether or not there was ever life on Mars.
“The fact that they saw the ‘blueberries’ is not a slam dunk that they’ve found life—it’s more of an indication that there’s water,” Biddle said. “It’s not like they found the skeletons of any known organisms, and I don’t know of anything that pertains to something similar.”
She said the round “blueberries” were discovered earlier on the mission by the rover called Opportunity in 2004, but they have a different composition and structure.
She said she believes these are all indications that Mars was a much more organic planet than it is now, but it is not complete proof there was life.
Biddle said the presence of water is an important element in determining whether life can be present on a planet, but it is more important that there is an energetic cycle of organisms that thrive on carbon and nitrogen. She said Mars does not meet those requirements, but one of the many extra solar planets scientists are studying could.
“Mathematically there’s a good possibility it happened somewhere else,” she said. “The chance encounter of finding any other form of life, although it’s rare, is not completely out of the realm of possibility.”
Junior Mike LePere said he believes it is important for scientists to research whether there is life on other planets because he thinks our world is in danger of the impending consequences of global warming. He said NASA should do more research because people on Earth are going to deplete fuel and as a result of that, break down the ozone in the next 50 to 100 years.
“I think NASA should do more because our planet is screwed, and we’ve got to do something,” LePere said.
Biddle said NASA should devote more funding to research the possibilities of life in places other than Earth. She said there is not enough evidence to support sending a human to another planet, so sending robots is the best way to explore.
“I think as we keep seeing things, sending more rovers is a good idea and the advancement between Spirit and Opportunity moving up to Curiosity shows that we’re really getting to have better and efficient technology if you compare those different rovers,” she said.
Senior Nicolas Di Domizio said the public’s support should be an important factor when deciding to launch a space mission. He said that even though he did not think the mission to Mars was a big deal, it is still important to get funding. No one knows the limit or the size of the universe, he said.
“If anyone knows basic statistics—the chances of life being on another planet compared to the size of the universe—there has to be life somewhere else,” Di Domizio said. “I think that’s something cool to think about.”