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(Discovery)   The Viking lander, which originally found life on Mars, then didn't find life on Mars, now has found life on Mars again   (news.discovery.com) divider line 71
    More: Unlikely, Viking Lander, life on Mars, Mars Viking, detections, Discovery News, mathematical analysis, raw data, Keck School of Medicine  
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8383 clicks; posted to Geek » on 13 Apr 2012 at 2:09 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-04-12 11:54:45 PM  
david bowie trifecta now in play.
 
2012-04-13 12:26:42 AM  
Lies. We'll know when it's found life by the sudden lack of signal and the giant teeth marks on the side.
 
2012-04-13 12:31:48 AM  
♫ First there is a microbe ♫
♫ Then there is no microbe♫
♫ Then there is ♫
 
2012-04-13 12:46:44 AM  
You are tearing me APART, NASA!
 
2012-04-13 12:57:38 AM  
It's a God-awful small affair.
 
2012-04-13 02:16:38 AM  
*stutter* [drool]

Gahdammit come on youse guys.

:3
 
2012-04-13 02:31:46 AM  
poietes.files.wordpress.com
 
2012-04-13 02:36:30 AM  
FTA: They should send a microscope

Why the fark are these billion dollar probes not equipped with microscopes?
 
2012-04-13 02:37:24 AM  
1.bp.blogspot.com
 
2012-04-13 02:38:19 AM  
www.mememaker.net
 
2012-04-13 03:11:20 AM  
starinc.brinkster.net
 
2012-04-13 03:22:37 AM  

marfar: FTA: They should send a microscope

Why the fark are these billion dollar probes not equipped with microscopes?


They are. Super sensitive electron scanning microscopes that were able to map a single grain of dust to determine it's physical composition to within a 99.9% degree of certainty.

But no one remembered what we should have sent was just a normal kids' microscope, or a speaker. Just play a loud noise and see what comes a-runnin'
 
2012-04-13 03:26:00 AM  

marfar: FTA: They should send a microscope

Why the fark are these billion dollar probes not equipped with microscopes?


Why would they be?

Is that a joke question, or do you actually not know how an optical microscope works and why that wouldn't be a feasible attachment for a remote-controlled robot on significant time delay built from 1990s tech?

//Also, even with modern tech, the benefit of optical microscope pictures would be worth neither the direct cost nor the equipment weight.
 
2012-04-13 03:28:44 AM  
This is what you get w/ Favre at the wheel
 
2012-04-13 03:28:54 AM  
The Viking's mission was to destroy all life on Mars. People keep forgetting that. Finding it was just step one.
 
2012-04-13 03:34:35 AM  

Jim_Callahan: why that wouldn't be a feasible attachment for a remote-controlled robot on significant time delay built from 1990s tec


If only there were some way to capture an image and send it back. Then we could take many images and compare them to one another and look for differences.
 
2012-04-13 03:46:51 AM  

doglover: Jim_Callahan: why that wouldn't be a feasible attachment for a remote-controlled robot on significant time delay built from 1990s tec

If only there were some way to capture an image and send it back. Then we could take many images and compare them to one another and look for differences.


Slide preparation for an optical microscope is much more an art than a science, it would be somewhat difficult to manage with a robot with current tech, at best it would be astonishingly slow and waste time that could be used to make a thousand of some other kind of measurement. Not to mention slides being traditionally made of heavy and easily-damaged materials (glass). Subjecting the delicate glass lenses of an optical scope to high g-forces also can screw them up pretty hard, too since minor defects matter a lot more than in the lenses of the full-on camera used to take the surface pictures and guide the unpacking.

doglover: They are. Super sensitive electron scanning microscopes that were able to map a single grain of dust to determine it's physical composition to within a 99.9% degree of certainty.


TEM sample preparation is in theory simpler than optical, but still beyond the scope of what a robot can do, and SEM well beyond robotic capabilities. Also neither technique tells you anything about composition. Both forms of equipment are also in themselves a bit delicate by nature, which is why neither was included.

You can look up the equipment list on Wikipedia, you know, and NASA has a website where you can see quite a few project details. You're not obligated to make shiat up.
 
2012-04-13 04:04:06 AM  

Jim_Callahan: Is that a joke question, or do you actually not know how an optical microscope works and why that wouldn't be a feasible attachment for a remote-controlled robot on significant time delay built from 1990s tech?


Why 1990? I would think you would either say 1976 or 2012?

Anyway, my naive guess is that making a wet mount slide would be pretty trivial for today's robots and if the object was to observe bacteria would be a pretty reasonable first step.

Since you're into gratuitous arrogant reproval of others, go for it.
 
2012-04-13 04:07:59 AM  

Jim_Callahan: You can look up the equipment list on Wikipedia, you know, and NASA has a website where you can see quite a few project details. You're not obligated to make shiat up.


Actually I got it from some article on the Pheonix lander, which had some kind of "atomic microscope". Link (new window) I didn't read the article, just assumed it was electron scanning.



And yes, while it is insane to send a microscope to another planet and might not even work right.... it's also pointless to take a thousand measurements we don't need when all we really want as a species is to get a real good look at the soil to see if there's any bacteria or anything hiding in the regolith.

They should make a single purpose mission to search for life. Instead of the chemical way they did with Pheonix, seriously guys you don't bake soil and look for gas emissions to actually find life, they could just bite the pillow and send a microscope that just takes a fine sample of dust and looks at it real hard for the duration. Design the whole probe to protect it if need be.

If people like you hadn't been in charge of the probe, someone with a little vision might have sent something entirely impractical and yet a lot more interesting up there already and gotten more public support already.

Nothing bums me out more than NASA press releases. They're always going on and on about crap nobody cares about, like yet another batch of spiral galaxies so far away that even if we could teleport there instantly they'd already be dead or exoplanets in Earth's temperature range but so far away that we'll never get a photo in our lifetimes. That's why their budget always gets cut.

farking save that nerd shiat for the nerds. We all want to find life on another planet. If it's there, there's a few places it could be and we should start there. Where's the Europa probe already? Get something up there with enough plutonium and a big enough antenna to melt a camera into the ice and take some pictures. Get microscopes on mars. Send our own probe to Venus. Go back to the moon. Do more sexy projects already, because hard science doesn't pay the bills.
 
2012-04-13 04:23:10 AM  
Well, it's life, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, not as we know it;
it's life, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, Captain.

There's Klingons on the starboard bow, starboard bow, starboard bow;
there's Klingons on the starboard bow, scrape 'em off, Jim.
 
2012-04-13 04:32:41 AM  
It'd probably be cheaper to make a robot "lunar lander" that picked up a Martian rock and flew back to Earth orbit than to do remote robotic microscopy. Once the rock's in Earth orbit, someone in a Soyuz could drag it to the ISS to take a better look.

/don't send it down to Earth; we know what kinds of horrors occur from that.
//more in reality, there'd be less chance of Earth contaminating the sample.
 
2012-04-13 04:45:56 AM  

doglover:
Actually I got it from some article on the Pheonix lander, which had some kind of "atomic microscope". Link (new window) I didn't read the article, just assumed it was electron scanning.


OK, that's a fair enough mistake, for a bit there I thought I was being trolled a bit.

An AFM is neither an electron microscope nor an optical microscope, and requires neither magnetic nor physical lensing. It runs a probe (mechanically) across the surface of some near-planar material and uses the mathematics of capacitance to map the shape of the surface at very small scales. The equipment involved is actually fairly robust and, when locked down properly, can be knocked around a good bit in shipping without real damage. The only real limitation is that you do have to set it quite still while taking a measurement, because bumping your sample while the rather delicate metal measuring tip is near contact with the surface can break it pretty easily, meaning you have to change the tip.

doglover: farking save that nerd shiat for the nerds. We all want to find life on another planet. If it's there, there's a few places it could be and we should start there.


No one really cares about life on Mars or anywhere else in the solar system, man. Now that we know there's no Princess-of-Mars style intelligent life that could conceivably compete with us, our remaining interest in extraterrestrial life is two-fold:

1 - Biochemistry, which you apparently don't care about since it's "nerd shiat".

2 - Whether it will be an obstacle to extracting a given planet's resources.

Whether there's bacteria (possibly FROM SPAAAAAAAAaaaaaaacccceeeeeeeeee....) out there or not means nothing to us even from a pop science perspective, since either way we're still alone in the solar system.

And, from a practical perspective, knowing the surface composition of mars and more specifically whether it can be easily processed into rocket fuel and usable metals means more to the "exciting" version of space travel (i.e. manned flight) than life anyway.

//We've been back to the moon a number of times, by the way, we just don't really care about manned flights because they're not really necessary with current automation. My personal favorite was launching the disc at lunar ice and then spectrally analyzing the resulting kaboom from space, mainly because all we needed to do was launch from a private island and slowly stroke a fluffy white cat to make it a full-on Bond villain scheme.
 
2012-04-13 05:27:23 AM  

Jim_Callahan: My personal favorite was launching the disc at lunar ice and then spectrally analyzing the resulting kaboom from space, mainly because all we needed to do was launch from a private island and slowly stroke a fluffy white cat to make it a full-on Bond villain scheme.


Mwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

I like the science. But it's not flashy enough these days. NASA, by making intelligent choices, is ruining their budget. I'm telling you, a manned mission to Mars would be too expensive, but do something really sexy, and get real visible light video of that event and the public will eat it up.

Also, a Dr Evil style PR guy wouldn't hurt. I think a Bond villain doing a lecture circuit could really increase their budget. "Our plan is to build a giant freakin' laser and cut a comet in half." "Dr. Madengineer, shut up and take our money!"
 
2012-04-13 06:23:04 AM  
While it is extremely clear that NASA did not really give these experiments a proper chance in the first place, for political reasons largely, the new idea sounds more 'interesting' than 'oh god thats amazing'
 
2012-04-13 07:11:04 AM  
The original calculations showed no life, until one of the martians that was standing there pointed out the calculation error.
 
2012-04-13 07:11:33 AM  
If there was life on Mars, the Stromtroopers wiped it out. But not without a couple casualties:

www.techchee.com
 
2012-04-13 07:36:10 AM  

Jim_Callahan: Is that a joke question, or do you actually not know how an optical microscope works and why that wouldn't be a feasible attachment for a remote-controlled robot on significant time delay built from 1990s tech?


That explains this picture of the one of the designers of the Viking Lander from the early 70s:

notesonafilm.files.wordpress.com

/Couldn't resist.
 
2012-04-13 07:40:43 AM  
There's life on Mars! And they have oil! And they're Muslim! And they're planning to attack America!

That ought to do it. Results should be confirmed within the week.
 
2012-04-13 07:44:16 AM  

AdolfOliverPanties: It's a God-awful small affair.


I welcome this earworm
 
2012-04-13 07:54:06 AM  

AdolfOliverPanties: It's a God-awful small affair.


Scary, isn't it...
kissesthejoyasitflies.files.wordpress.com
 
2012-04-13 07:58:55 AM  
Listen, Subby. I'll concede that MAYBE the Vikings discovered life in North America, but I highly doubt they made it to mars.
 
2012-04-13 08:24:37 AM  

doglover: But it's not flashy enough these days. NASA, by making intelligent choices, is ruining their budget.


No, they're not. The "starve the beast" anti-intellectuals are ruining their budget. NASA, constrained by a microscopic budget, is focusing on their core competencies.

They do need better PR, but not at the expense of reducing the scientific value of their experiments. You know what you get when you go for visible projects instead of useful ones? The ISS.

NASA only ever seemed cool because of the Cold War. Once the Cold War was over, the space-dick-swinging contest ended.
 
2012-04-13 08:27:00 AM  
onlyhdwallpapers.com
 
2012-04-13 08:32:26 AM  
28.media.tumblr.com

Paging Doctor T'Soni. Paging Doctor T'Soni. Doctor T'Soni you are needed in the Prothean research laboratory.
 
2012-04-13 08:35:40 AM  

Satanic_Hamster: Listen, Subby. I'll concede that MAYBE the Vikings discovered life in North America, but I highly doubt they made it to mars.


images.wikia.com
 
2012-04-13 08:47:32 AM  
i.huffpost.com
 
2012-04-13 09:21:15 AM  
My biggest fear with Mars is that a human missions will be anti-climatic.
We finally land, spend a week doing science and settle all the questions the robots failed at for the last half a century and then.... Golf?
 
2012-04-13 09:21:27 AM  
Mars is the bait. The real interest should be on Phobos and Deimos in their artificially created orbits.
 
2012-04-13 09:34:22 AM  

Jim_Callahan: marfar: FTA: They should send a microscope

Why the fark are these billion dollar probes not equipped with microscopes?

Why would they be?

Is that a joke question, or do you actually not know how an optical microscope works and why that wouldn't be a feasible attachment for a remote-controlled robot on significant time delay built from 1990s tech?

//Also, even with modern tech, the benefit of optical microscope pictures would be worth neither the direct cost nor the equipment weight.


Actually, Viking landers were built with 1970's tech.

There is no technical reason why we couldn't have sent a microscope. I can even envision it using 1970's tech: Using a conventional optical microscope barrel, you attach a film camera to the eyepiece side. You wash the dirt sample in sterile water, and squirt a bit of that water into a stationary slide/slip apparatus. Film camera on the microscope then takes a picture, and the resulting image then goes into a developer bath, much like the cameras used for space probes in the 1960s. A vidicon TV camera/light scanner arrangement then scans the resulting developed image for transmission to Earth via radio. If you want to take a series of photos of the same sample, you leave it in the slide/slip apparatus. If you want to look at a new sample, you squirt some disinfectant in the apparatus, wash it thoroughly with sterile water, and repeat the process.

Thing is, you've got space and weight restrictions on a spacecraft, and not every single possible experiment can be added.
 
2012-04-13 09:38:34 AM  

way south: My biggest fear with Mars is that a human missions will be anti-climatic.
We finally land, spend a week doing science and settle all the questions the robots failed at for the last half a century and then.... Golf?


Which is exactly the problem with an uneducated populace. Saying that we could answer all the questions we have about Mars, planetary formation, extended existence in space, low gravity effects over time, et. al in a week is a problem. Most people will hear "No life on Mars" and go back to American Idol. That could no more end the question than spending a week in the middle of Iowa and say we've learned all we need to know about the Earth.

Take away everything that space exploration has spawned though (microwaves, cell phones, GPS, etc.) and people would take notice fast of the value NASA provides. Sad actually.
 
2012-04-13 09:53:32 AM  

AngryDragon: Take away everything that space exploration has spawned though (microwaves, cell phones, GPS, etc.) and people would take notice fast of the value NASA provides. Sad actually.


Actually, all of those things were largely military developments.

Microwaves depend on the cavity magnetron, developed for centimetric RADAR during WWII so that the Allies could better detect military aircraft, u-boats, and also do all-weather bombing. GPS was a military program that was opened up to civilian use. Cellphones? Heck, at it's simplest, ham radio operators had a cell-like network of repeaters accessible with hand-held devices that could access the phone network through autopatch in the 1970's.
 
2012-04-13 10:08:27 AM  

dittybopper: AngryDragon: Take away everything that space exploration has spawned though (microwaves, cell phones, GPS, etc.) and people would take notice fast of the value NASA provides. Sad actually.

Actually, all of those things were largely military developments.

Microwaves depend on the cavity magnetron, developed for centimetric RADAR during WWII so that the Allies could better detect military aircraft, u-boats, and also do all-weather bombing. GPS was a military program that was opened up to civilian use. Cellphones? Heck, at it's simplest, ham radio operators had a cell-like network of repeaters accessible with hand-held devices that could access the phone network through autopatch in the 1970's.


OK. So I fail at examples. Here's a more comprehensive subset:

50 years, 50 giant leaps: How Nasa rocked our world (new window)

Not to mention that for every dollar NASA spends it translates into $7-8 of goods and services produced. Instant stimulus. (Source (new window))
 
2012-04-13 10:22:33 AM  
Hey, remember that time they sent that probe to Titan to see what was under the surface of the clouds and all we got back was this:

i.imgur.com

Then when we complained about the shiatty RMS Titanic-era looking pictures the response was "photographs are not good science"?

Yeah, that shiat was awesome. I remember how immediately after the public was clamoring for Congress to write NASA a huge check to send more probes with fuzzy black and white cameras out there.
 
2012-04-13 10:27:03 AM  

AngryDragon: dittybopper: AngryDragon: Take away everything that space exploration has spawned though (microwaves, cell phones, GPS, etc.) and people would take notice fast of the value NASA provides. Sad actually.

Actually, all of those things were largely military developments.

Microwaves depend on the cavity magnetron, developed for centimetric RADAR during WWII so that the Allies could better detect military aircraft, u-boats, and also do all-weather bombing. GPS was a military program that was opened up to civilian use. Cellphones? Heck, at it's simplest, ham radio operators had a cell-like network of repeaters accessible with hand-held devices that could access the phone network through autopatch in the 1970's.

OK. So I fail at examples. Here's a more comprehensive subset:

50 years, 50 giant leaps: How Nasa rocked our world (new window)

Not to mention that for every dollar NASA spends it translates into $7-8 of goods and services produced. Instant stimulus. (Source (new window))


Some of those examples are semi-bogus too: Hang gliders, for example. The Rogallo wing was in invented in 1948, prior to NASA even existing, and while they looked at it's use, it wasn't actually *USED* by NASA. Hang gliding per se has been around since the late 1800s (see: Otto Lilienthal).

Don't get me wrong, I'm a big advocate for space research. It's just that the justification of "Hey, we get all these benefits from it" seems wrong-headed. If that's the reasoning, why not just pour the money into developing new stuff, instead of doing space research? The fact that we are increasing our knowledge of the Universe in which we live should be justification enough.
 
2012-04-13 10:29:16 AM  
I used to know a JPL scientist who was laid off by NASA after it was concluded that Mars was "lifeless". He was so damned sure that Mars was going to have a remnant of 'something'. He ended up cutting up ships with a welding torch in San Francisco and when he could stand it no more, he picked up his rig and stepped off the ship he was working on and into the bay.
 
2012-04-13 10:46:45 AM  

AngryDragon: saying that we could answer all the questions we have about Mars, planetary formation, extended existence in space, low gravity effects over time, et. al in a week is a problem.


Its exactly what happened with the moon missions.
Sending robots never properly answered our questions like sending men finally did, but none of the new questions raised are ones that the government cared to answer.
The real question was "are we better than the Russians" and that was answered.

What we didn't find on the moon, and what we wont find on Mars, is the motivation to continue filling text books with academic information. We need to get back to more primal reasoning which means less education and more emotion.
Fear, hate, envy and pride got us to the moon. Putting those to work and culling the political herd of non-supporters is what will get us to Mars.
 
2012-04-13 10:53:00 AM  
If they do find life on Mars, I bet it will be delicious.
 
2012-04-13 10:54:20 AM  

t3knomanser: NASA only ever seemed cool because of the Cold War. Once the Cold War was over, the space-dick-swinging contest ended.


Start a new space race.

I want my Mars Base, darnit. With blackjack, and hookers.
 
2012-04-13 10:56:49 AM  
The impression I got was that the article essentially said "There is life on Mars because math."

"Hmm" I thought "that can't be right."
So, I came to read the comments hoping I would come away with a better understanding of the article.
I come away from the comments reminded that I majored in English and feeling a little sad about that.
Maybe I'll read the article again. Maybe I misread something or missed something.
 
2012-04-13 11:13:17 AM  

Lunaville: The impression I got was that the article essentially said "There is life on Mars because math."


"the mathematically complexity" did it for me.
 
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