Friday, 24 August 2012

Did NASA Discover Life on Mars - 36 years ago?

[W]hat Curiosity is NOT designed to do is actually search for life. It is possible that one of its cameras may uncover signs of fossil microbes or even larger organisms preserved in the Martian rocks. It is not completely impossible that it could yet stumble upon some sort of extant living organism, perhaps a suspicious colored coating on a Martian rock or somesuch.

But Curiosity is not equipped with the sort of laboratory kit that could sniff out living Martian bugs in the soil. And to some that is strange.
It would be irony indeed if a 21st Century robot that in nearly every way is hugely superior to its Viking forbears were to end up making the discovery of the century - by proxy. Many scientists and Mars enthusiasts – myself included – have thought for a long time that it is a bit odd that after Viking NASA has seemed to be studiously NOT looking for life on Mars. I can imagine why. Aliens, even microbes, have the whiff of the fringe about them and until recently NASA liked to shy away from the whole question of extraterrestrial biology altogether. But the existence, or not, of life elsewhere is surely the most important question that agencies like NASA should be tackling

In previous posts on this site it was pointed out that NASA has been misrepresenting the true conditions we see on Mars - especially with their propensity to push false colour images of the surface that obfuscate the fact that Mars has a blue sky. The top picture on this post sports a more accurate colour image taken from a Viking lander.

Moreover, there is further evidence that NASA manipulated images coming from the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity - creating fake skylines and blanking out sections that they wrongly claimed were data drop outs. Although the material is currently not online, Xenotech Research linked to many NASA images which clearly showed alterations. I did manage to discover one remaining picture from that analyses (I should have saved all the data at the time!):

The above picture is made up of a number of NASA releases. For unknown reasons they altered these images. Each colour represents a different variation that is put together to create a 'complete' image. Of particular note is the fake sky cut into the red version and the fake data drop out. In the latter case, if you zoom inwards, you can see a line extending over the rocks. Originally the cut out was all black so you must imagine this line as black. The characteristics displayed in this particular case are akin to photoshopping rather than data drop out.

The question is how did such variations arise? Why does one version have a fake sky, which looks like a deliberate edit, and why cut out a square in the middle? In another NASA picture, not available here, there is a tiny 'space invader' icon inserted into the image.

It appears as if NASA is not being entirely honest with the public in terms of presenting 'raw' image data - and they continually fudge about the true colours of Mars (how many Mars exhibits feature huge backgrounds with orange or orange-grey sky?).

Is NASA making it more difficult to prove that life exists elsewhere in our solar system, perhaps stifling thoughts that life may be more common in the universe than is otherwise imagined?

[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, August 24th, 2012.]

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