Author Topic: A Martian question...  (Read 13681 times)

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Offline PeteInTexas

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A Martian question...
« on: August 06, 2012, 06:36:37 am »
Did Earthlings just screw up life on Mars?  (hear me out)

Kudos to all the engineers and engineering efforts to answer the question if there WAS life on Mars.

But nobody ever thinks that life could still be evolving on Mars.  And our series of intrusions into the red planet could very well have altered the nascent evolutionary process.
 

Offline JuKu

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2012, 06:49:06 am »
The brightest brains on the planet on the task, and you claim, without checking the facts, that they missed something elementary? Of course they have thought of that.  All interplanetary satellites, probes etc. have been and are sterile.

That said, they did miss a step in the procedures. Not a real issue, but they did open a container on board; the contents were sterile, but not gone through the ultra sterile preparations that the other parts went through, so potentially, parts of the craft are just sterile, not ultra-sterile.
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Offline PeteInTexas

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2012, 07:04:46 am »
The brightest brains on the planet on the task, and you claim, without checking the facts, that they missed something elementary? Of course they have thought of that.  All interplanetary satellites, probes etc. have been and are sterile.

That said, they did miss a step in the procedures. Not a real issue, but they did open a container on board; the contents were sterile, but not gone through the ultra sterile preparations that the other parts went through, so potentially, parts of the craft are just sterile, not ultra-sterile.

There is still a lot of mechanical stirring and kicking up of dust and digging and scraping and squishing.  All these could retard the delicate evolutionary process.
 

Offline Ed.Kloonk

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2012, 07:55:34 am »
 

Offline _Sin

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2012, 09:12:15 am »
There is still a lot of mechanical stirring and kicking up of dust and digging and scraping and squishing.  All these could retard the delicate evolutionary process.

It's not that delicate a process. I mean, the planet is pelted with debris from space on a regular basis, as is Earth. A relatively tiny robot delicately landing and then digging up samples isn't going to have much effect, especially as any life up there would be microbial.

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Offline Things

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2012, 09:54:50 am »
Stirring up of dust was also minimal, as that was one of the limitations they had to overcome and thus decided to use a skycrane.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2012, 10:08:27 am »
There is still a lot of mechanical stirring and kicking up of dust and digging and scraping and squishing.  All these could retard the delicate evolutionary process.

"A lot"?  :o
Calculate the surface area and volume of what these rovers compared to the surface area, and calculate the percentage.
I get roughly 0.0000007% even if the rovers ruined 1sqkm
Also compare the what the regular dust storm do etc.
It's not even in the noise.

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Offline Psi

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2012, 12:37:41 pm »
The question is moot anyway, eventually humans will go there and setup a mars base. Then comes mining equipment etc...
In the long run it will be impossible to keep the atmosphere and ground free of earth material.

« Last Edit: August 06, 2012, 12:40:23 pm by Psi »
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Offline _Sin

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2012, 02:27:01 pm »
The question is moot anyway, eventually humans will go there and setup a mars base. Then comes mining equipment etc...
In the long run it will be impossible to keep the atmosphere and ground free of earth material.

Yeah, even if there are microbes up there, we're not going to wait a few million years in the hope they'll evolve into something that can be our friend.

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Online ejeffrey

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2012, 03:18:08 pm »
The "real" reason behind the sterilization procedures is to avoid contamination that might disrupt future science missions.  Almost certainly the questions of whether mars has or ever had microbial life will be answered long before there is a manned mission.  At that point we will be able to make an informed decision.  Presumably the decision would be how the best way to preserve the evidence of native martian biology for future study.  It is unlikely to me that we would decide to entirely forgo human missions simply to avoid contamination at that point.
 

Offline Mechatrommer

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2012, 03:25:20 pm »
The question is moot anyway, eventually humans will go there and setup a mars base. Then comes mining equipment etc...
In the long run it will be impossible to keep the atmosphere and ground free of earth material.
oh please are you saying intelligence may interfere with natural selection? ;) :P
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Offline PeteInTexas

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2012, 03:48:03 pm »
Alright, I don't know the particulars of how the nascent evolutionary process may be disrupted but we have all seen the time travel movies where one little change in one little detail wildly changes the future.

If evolution relies on Chaos Theory, then a butterfly could have died each time humans land on the planet.  I don't think we should be okay with that, or at least we should openly accept that consequence.
 

Online IanB

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2012, 03:59:39 pm »
Alright, I don't know the particulars of how the nascent evolutionary process may be disrupted but we have all seen the time travel movies where one little change in one little detail wildly changes the future.

Considering the extent to which mankind has transformed the ecology of the Earth and continues to do so, it is strange you would worry about consequences from sending an unmanned probe to some distant and desolate planet halfway across the solar system.

Quote
If evolution relies on Chaos Theory, then a butterfly could have died each time humans land on the planet.  I don't think we should be okay with that, or at least we should openly accept that consequence.

That isn't how chaos theory works. The idea that the flapping of a butterfly's wings could affect the weather is a myth.
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Offline PeteInTexas

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2012, 04:13:18 pm »
Alright, I don't know the particulars of how the nascent evolutionary process may be disrupted but we have all seen the time travel movies where one little change in one little detail wildly changes the future.

Considering the extent to which mankind has transformed the ecology of the Earth and continues to do so, it is strange you would worry about consequences from sending an unmanned probe to some distant and desolate planet halfway across the solar system.

For the irony-  the very search for life thoughtlessly ended it.

Quote
Quote
If evolution relies on Chaos Theory, then a butterfly could have died each time humans land on the planet.  I don't think we should be okay with that, or at least we should openly accept that consequence.

That isn't how chaos theory works. The idea that the flapping of a butterfly's wings could affect the weather is a myth.

You get the idea though.
 

Offline FlyingBrickyard

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2012, 05:36:52 pm »
The rover is likely to discover the first known extraterrestrial life, which to everyone's surprise will be rather complex and very much resemble a cat.  Unfortunately it'll make this discovery by inadvertently rolling over it.
 

Offline G7PSK

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2012, 05:53:54 pm »
Is it likely that any bacteria or virus from Earth will survive the radiation from nine months in deep space, I would also expect that the greater concern might be what bacteria or virus lurks on Mars and would it be a threat to humans if they either landed on Mars or if rock samples were brought back to earth, there might be no immunity to infections so brought back or encounterd directly on Mars.
 

Offline FlyingBrickyard

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2012, 06:17:36 pm »
Is it likely that any bacteria or virus from Earth will survive the radiation from nine months in deep space, I would also expect that the greater concern might be what bacteria or virus lurks on Mars and would it be a threat to humans if they either landed on Mars or if rock samples were brought back to earth, there might be no immunity to infections so brought back or encounterd directly on Mars.

It's unlikely in both cases.  They do sterilize the equipment before it is sent out, and the chances of any native Martian life being hazardous in that manner to us is remote.  The Earth and Mars being as isolated as they are from each other would not likely give rise to things like viruses that are able to take advantage of the life on the other planet.  Most viruses here on Earth can't even jump from one species to another, and those few that can depend on significant genetic similarities between the hosts and often considerable exposure. 

The chances of some Martian evolved virus matching well and being able to take advantage of life from Earth is extremely remote, and the reverse is also true.  Even if life on both worlds had somehow shared a common origin back in the earliest days of the solar system, they've been isolated long enough for significant divergence to occur.  Heck, just look at the native terrestrial species of Australia compared to the rest of the world for a milder, significantly shorter term example. 
 

Offline benemorius

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #17 on: August 07, 2012, 12:10:47 am »
It will ultimately boil down to a question of morals: Is it morally right for humans to disturb the evolution of life on Mars for the sake of our own survival?

I'll not be the one to answer the question, but humanity is going to need to answer it very soon. Mars is the only other planet in this system that appears to have even a ghost of a chance of supporting a human colony. No other planet or moon even comes close. Discovering life (even advanced life) on Mars will not change the fact that Mars is our one and only hope for colonization.

The bottom line is that in order to ensure our survival we absolutely must leave Earth and colonize a second planet, then a second star system, and so on. We may have a few billion years before our star system will no longer support life as we know it, but the useful lifetime of our planet might well be far, far shorter. Given that it may take centuries to terraform Mars and establish a thriving human colony there, it is imperative that we begin as soon as we possibly can.

Thus, we might very soon need to decide whether it is ok to interfere with (and perhaps even destroy) another form of life for the sake of our own preservation. It is an age-old dilemma, and one that is now being posed to us on a greater scale than ever before in our history. It goes very deep - to the very heart of what life is, what free will is, and what it means to harm, interfere with, or destroy these things.

Science does not have an answer to any of these questions - at least no answer that is congruent with existing moral beliefs. These are not easy questions. Will we be the laughing stock of our galaxy for staying and dying on our home planet, or will our race be thrown in a galactic prison for being stubbornly arrogant and morally destitute. Who can know?
 

Offline HardBoot

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #18 on: August 07, 2012, 12:55:32 am »
The prime directive only applies to already existing life.

Wait, what, that's not law?

Anyways, Mars is likely well past it's golden age for advanced life to spring up.
 

Offline Bored@Work

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #19 on: August 07, 2012, 04:58:08 am »
It will ultimately boil down to a question of morals: Is it morally right for humans to disturb the evolution of life on Mars for the sake of our own survival?

Yes, we are nature, too. Going to Mars is a natural process.

Besides all this, are we killing life on Mars, or maybe are we bringing life to Mars?

By the same arguments (disturbing something), one can argue that the tiny disturbance Curiosity does is by sheer luck the disturbance needed to bring two materials together that would otherwise not come together. And without bringing them together Mars would have had no chance of developing life in a million years. We just don't know.

If the development of life is a robust process then Curiosity should have no effect. If it is a delicate, fragile process, then already every meteoroid hitting Mars might endanger or facilitate it, like then Curiosity does to a smaller extend.
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Offline G7PSK

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #20 on: August 07, 2012, 07:53:49 am »
It will ultimately boil down to a question of morals: Is it morally right for humans to disturb the evolution of life on Mars for the sake of our own survival?

I'll not be the one to answer the question, but humanity is going to need to answer it very soon. Mars is the only other planet in this system that appears to have even a ghost of a chance of supporting a human colony. No other planet or moon even comes close. Discovering life (even advanced life) on Mars will not change the fact that Mars is our one and only hope for colonization.

The bottom line is that in order to ensure our survival we absolutely must leave Earth and colonize a second planet, then a second star system, and so on. We may have a few billion years before our star system will no longer support life as we know it, but the useful lifetime of our planet might well be far, far shorter. Given that it may take centuries to terraform Mars and establish a thriving human colony there, it is imperative that we begin as soon as we possibly can.

Thus, we might very soon need to decide whether it is ok to interfere with (and perhaps even destroy) another form of life for the sake of our own preservation. It is an age-old dilemma, and one that is now being posed to us on a greater scale than ever before in our history. It goes very deep - to the very heart of what life is, what free will is, and what it means to harm, interfere with, or destroy these things.

Science does not have an answer to any of these questions - at least no answer that is congruent with existing moral beliefs. These are not easy questions. Will we be the laughing stock of our galaxy for staying and dying on our home planet, or will our race be thrown in a galactic prison for being stubbornly arrogant and morally destitute. Who can know?

None of that mattered to any one when the Europeans went to Australia and America, they just went and used religion to justify the wholesale slaughter of indigenous life including other human races
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #21 on: August 07, 2012, 09:07:42 am »
It will ultimately boil down to a question of morals: Is it morally right for humans to disturb the evolution of life on Mars for the sake of our own survival?

Of course it is, that's how the universe works. We would be stupid if we didn't.
It's not that there is any intelligent life there anyway, or likely any form of semi-complex life at all to disturb.

Quote
I'll not be the one to answer the question, but humanity is going to need to answer it very soon. Mars is the only other planet in this system that appears to have even a ghost of a chance of supporting a human colony. No other planet or moon even comes close. Discovering life (even advanced life) on Mars will not change the fact that Mars is our one and only hope for colonization.

The bottom line is that in order to ensure our survival we absolutely must leave Earth and colonize a second planet

I think we have a moral obligation as an intelligent evolved species to expand beyond our own planet. it's not just a matter of survival.

Quote
Thus, we might very soon need to decide whether it is ok to interfere with (and perhaps even destroy) another form of life for the sake of our own preservation. It is an age-old dilemma, and one that is now being posed to us on a greater scale than ever before in our history. It goes very deep - to the very heart of what life is, what free will is, and what it means to harm, interfere with, or destroy these things.

We've already been doing that on a daily basis for the entire modern history of the human race.
There is nothing to decide, because it will eventually happen, no doubt.

[/quote]
Science does not have an answer to any of these questions - at least no answer that is congruent with existing moral beliefs. These are not easy questions.
Will we be the laughing stock of our galaxy for staying and dying on our home planet, or will our race be thrown in a galactic prison for being stubbornly arrogant and morally destitute. Who can know?
[/quote]

Neither will eventuate, because AFAWK we are the only ones within cooee who will care. We will expand and conquer, it's the human way.

Dave.
 

Offline _Sin

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #22 on: August 07, 2012, 09:20:52 am »
So it's morally ok for me to clean my toilet bowl? That's good, I was getting worried for a minute there.
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Offline Ed.Kloonk

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #23 on: August 07, 2012, 09:25:14 am »
So it's morally ok for me to clean my toilet bowl? That's good, I was getting worried for a minute there.

Don't do it. It's over-rated.

Mine's never been cleaned in 15 years and I can assure you it gives me no trouble what so ever.

 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #24 on: August 07, 2012, 09:51:02 am »
For the irony-  the very search for life thoughtlessly ended it.

Whatever life there is there (if any) won't be ended by us finding it.
Whatever life is there has survived and won against all odds, we would have a hard time finishing it off.
In fact, the most likely life we find up there will be quite simple and dormant, and it's likely that the choice will be if we bring it back to life or not. Not end it. (We will of course bring it back to life out of sheer curiosity and research)
In fact we likely won't have a say in it, because the act of trying to make Mars more habitable for us, will almost certainly make it more habitable for any life there.

The irony is people trying to think that there is some big moral question here, without stopping to realise that by their own lifestye choice, the insatiable demand for power and products they are using, the house the live in, the street they drive on, and almost everything they do in life has resulted in countless species being made extinct already, both directly and indirectly.

Dave.
 

Offline _Sin

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #25 on: August 07, 2012, 09:59:10 am »
The irony is people trying to think that there is some big moral question here, without stopping to realise that by their own lifestye choice, the insatiable demand for power and products they are using, the house the live in, the street they drive on, and almost everything they do in life has resulted in countless species being made extinct already, both directly and indirectly.

To be fair, some of those species were *delicious*.
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #26 on: August 07, 2012, 10:09:47 am »
To be fair, some of those species were *delicious*.

Darwin at his finest!

Only 100 lost a day or thereabouts:
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Offline digsys

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #27 on: August 07, 2012, 11:49:49 am »
To be fair, some of those species were *delicious*.
GRRRR .. spat my drink
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Online BravoV

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #28 on: August 07, 2012, 12:39:51 pm »

It's not that there is any intelligent life there anyway, or likely any form of semi-complex life at all to disturb.

Dave.

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« Last Edit: August 07, 2012, 01:32:36 pm by BravoV »
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #29 on: August 07, 2012, 01:30:26 pm »
Does this look familiar to you ? ;) (youngster might not recognize this)

I don't Recall.

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Offline JuKu

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #30 on: August 07, 2012, 01:36:58 pm »
First:

So it's morally ok for me to clean my toilet bowl? That's good, I was getting worried for a minute there.

Don't do it. It's over-rated.

Mine's never been cleaned in 15 years and I can assure you it gives me no trouble what so ever.

the very next post:

Whatever life there is there (if any) won't be ended by us finding it.

LOL
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Offline Mechatrommer

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #31 on: August 07, 2012, 02:37:48 pm »
To be fair, some of those species were *delicious*.
GRRRR .. spat my drink
"you should not eat living creature! thats barbaric!" ... according to a school of thought. as morality is concern, nowadays the way i see it, whats moral is what accepted by majority of "people". so, should we open up a poll? :D
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Offline _Sin

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #32 on: August 07, 2012, 02:47:18 pm »
Open up a poll? I'm more likely to open up a roll, in order to insert some bacon.
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Offline SoftwareSamurai

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #33 on: August 07, 2012, 05:13:01 pm »
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Offline Ed.Kloonk

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #34 on: August 08, 2012, 06:55:18 am »
First:

So it's morally ok for me to clean my toilet bowl? That's good, I was getting worried for a minute there.

Don't do it. It's over-rated.


Mine's never been cleaned in 15 years and I can assure you it gives me no trouble what so ever.

the very next post:

Whatever life there is there (if any) won't be ended by us finding it.

LOL

 

Offline Sionyn

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #35 on: August 08, 2012, 08:40:52 am »
shhhh its really a dust bin lid that nasa has hooked up in back yard
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Offline benemorius

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #36 on: August 09, 2012, 12:58:27 am »
The irony is people trying to think that there is some big moral question here, without stopping to realise that by their own lifestye choice, the insatiable demand for power and products they are using, the house the live in, the street they drive on, and almost everything they do in life has resulted in countless species being made extinct already, both directly and indirectly.

This talk of potentially finding familiar microbes on Mars is decidedly small potatoes, as are the countless extinct unintelligent species here on this planet. What concerns me greatly though is how the public will react in the event that a separate genesis of life is discovered on Mars, distinct from the tree of life found here on Earth - the kind of life that Carl Sagan spoke of when he suggested that the appropriate course of action may in that case be to leave Mars and its life alone, saying "Mars then belongs to the Martians". Now I'm afraid I may not share that sentiment with him, but I have no doubt that many people will if we are indeed faced with that situation. When and if we do finally get our governments to take serious steps toward colonizing Mars, the last thing we'll need is a bunch of microbe-huggers standing in the way of our survival.

Make no mistake - people do and will see a big moral dilemma here, as evidenced by the existence of this thread and many other discussions like it. It seems wise to encourage discussion about it sooner rather than later to help prepare the race for our transformation into a multi-planet species.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: A Martian question...
« Reply #37 on: August 09, 2012, 01:17:27 am »
The irony is people trying to think that there is some big moral question here, without stopping to realise that by their own lifestye choice, the insatiable demand for power and products they are using, the house the live in, the street they drive on, and almost everything they do in life has resulted in countless species being made extinct already, both directly and indirectly.

This talk of potentially finding familiar microbes on Mars is decidedly small potatoes, as are the countless extinct unintelligent species here on this planet. What concerns me greatly though is how the public will react in the event that a separate genesis of life is discovered on Mars, distinct from the tree of life found here on Earth - the kind of life that Carl Sagan spoke of when he suggested that the appropriate course of action may in that case be to leave Mars and its life alone, saying "Mars then belongs to the Martians". Now I'm afraid I may not share that sentiment with him, but I have no doubt that many people will if we are indeed faced with that situation. When and if we do finally get our governments to take serious steps toward colonizing Mars, the last thing we'll need is a bunch of microbe-huggers standing in the way of our survival.

Make no mistake - people do and will see a big moral dilemma here, as evidenced by the existence of this thread and many other discussions like it. It seems wise to encourage discussion about it sooner rather than later to help prepare the race for our transformation into a multi-planet species.

It'll go down exactly the same way it's always gone down. Well, actually, thankfully not because we are more civilised and knowledgeable these days!
But like it or not Mars will become ours, it will be conquered and colonised. We'll do our best to preserve any life there and live in harmony with it, but it will in now way stop us.
But almost certainly, any "life" there will be at best, the very early stages of evolution.
To leave that alone and let it evolve "naturally" and give up probably our only sensible place to expand off this planet, is a very weak case indeed.
What if we know life is there, but we find a huge global killer asteroid heading to it? Should we stop it? or let the life evolve "naturally"?

Indeed, by most accounts, any life there is already either extinct or almost extinct, and the planet is doomed as far as life is concerned, it way past it's prime.
Should we terraform the planet and help any life there? or let them die out the natural evolution way?

Dave.
 


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