Star Mars


Since the boom in space technology about 30 years ago, man has found the
method for expanding his existence beyond the many once thought "unbreakable
barriers." Together with this development in space technology came a large
quantity of information and discoveries of the compounds of the universe, and
scientific questions seemed to jump out in equal number. The question that
captures the eye of the media today causing a bitter controversy is probably the
most easy to understand, considering the complex astronomy jargon. Is life
possible on Mars? The fact is we still don\'t know. "Some of the early
arguments we now know to be almost certainly erroneous, but even the most recent
pieces of evidence do not unambiguously demonstrate the existence of life on
Mars." ( Sagan and Shklovskii 273)
Some scientist believe man should look up in the sky searching for new
habitats for future generations, since human kind today seems to be going
backwards in many aspects of the earth\'s ecology. The first attempt would be to
study the moon; the second, our neighbor planet. Unfortunately, our actual
technology slightly provides strong, useful information about the red planet
because of the vast distance between us.
While people such as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas try to convince
us with hundred million dollar movies that we are not alone, engineers and
geologists like from the NASA-Stanford University team pursue, based on true
evidence, the idea of possible life on Mars. However, the burden of proof is
sometimes too heavy even based on real evidence. The tough debate started on
August 1996, when scientists from the NASA-SU team announced that a meteorite
found on the Antartica contained evidence of past life on the red planet. They
supported their conclusion on the basis of organic molecules, carbonates, and
minerals found inside the rock, which are basic components of living things.
This announcement astonished the world, but not the critics who skeptically
stated opposite explanations for each of the components discovered. The main
discussion focused by critics like Allan Treiman arguing that "This scientist
have lowered the standards of evidence rather than raised them, which is what
you would expect for a claim this extraordinary." (qtd. in Begley and Rogers
58) The problem raises when it is proved that those kinds of minerals and
organic molecules found in the meteorite, which fell from Mars about 13,000
years ago, can also be formed during nonbiological reactions such as very high
temperatures.
For us, the common magazine readers, it is difficult to deal with these
two positions: the final acceptance of extraterrestrial life, which is the
strong motivation of the NASA-SU team, or the final submission to the fact that
we stand as the only life form here and everywhere. This assumption is kind of
complicated as well considering the enormous size of the Solar System; moreover,
we know that our System resembles a grain of sand in the unimaginable vastness
of the universe.
I strongly believe in the scientific method, the experiment conducted to
reach the solution to a problem using true information, gathered and analyzed in
an objective way to minimize the possibility of error or bias. I like to see
irrefutable proof on the table, not just to hear them strong from highly
renowned people. Scientists have made numerous mistakes in the past, and will
continue to do so even though our technology is becoming more accurate year by
year. I find some weaknesses in certain points cited by planetary geologist
David McKay. He admits that "The evidence is somewhat circumstantial, but there
is enough to support the hypothesis of ancient life on Mars." (qtd. In Begley
and Roberts 57) Enough to support the hypothesis, but not the thesis, I would
say.
The debate continues today and new information will be revealed to the
world next April at Houston\'s Johnson Space Center, when the Mars workshop will
be open. The media will have to wait until then just to put the story in the
eye of the hurricane, again.

Category: Science