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NASA's LCROSS Spacecraft Discovers Life On Earth

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the that-was-the-control-group dept.

Space 171

Matt_dk writes "On Saturday, Aug. 1, 2009, the LCROSS spacecraft successfully completed its first Earth-look calibration of its science payload. 'The Earth-look was very successful' said Tony Colaprete, LCROSS project scientist. 'The instruments are all healthy and the science teams was able to collect additional data that will help refine our calibrations of the instruments.' During the Earth observations, the spacecraft's spectrometers were able to detect the signatures of the Earth's water, ozone, methane, oxygen, carbon dioxide and possibly vegetation."

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171 comments

eat my shorts !! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28965439)

Eat my shorts !!

Beam me up Scotty!! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28965671)

Theres no intelligent live down here!!

Re:Beam me up Scotty!! (4, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965787)

Theres no intelligent live down here!!

Oh, the irony..... ;)

Re:Beam me up Scotty!! (1)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965813)

Also "theres" should be "there's". Clearly the AC is themselves not intelligent. But that little ditty from bumper stickers around the world still makes me laugh. Does anyone know its origin?

Re:Beam me up Scotty!! (1)

mrsurb (1484303) | more than 4 years ago | (#28966007)

Should not "themselves" be "himself"? Or theoretically "herself", but this is slashdot.

Re:Beam me up Scotty!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28967129)

Shouldn't "theoretically" really be "possibly"?

Re:Beam me up Scotty!! (4, Funny)

treeves (963993) | more than 4 years ago | (#28966025)

I think it's a quote from Star Wars.

Re:Beam me up Scotty!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28967175)

I think it's a quote from Star Wars.

You must immediately turn your geek card. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Either you actually don't know the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars or you were trying for a +5 but forgot the <sarcasm></sarcasm> tags. Either way, you clearly aren't a geek. Some nice gentlemen with uniforms, firearms and tasers will be along in short order to escort you out.

Re:Beam me up Scotty!! (2, Funny)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 4 years ago | (#28967903)

Zargog says that his brother was lynched after he landed in Mississippi - try landing in one of the blue-coloured states!

But is it intelligent? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28965445)

That is the question?

Re:But is it intelligent? (3, Funny)

JuzzFunky (796384) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965561)

If intelligent life forms do exist on earth then why haven't they contacted me?

Re:But is it intelligent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28966533)

Probably because, you know, they are girls and they are intelligent? That would probably explain it pretty well.

It must be broken then (-1, Offtopic)

jjoelc (1589361) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965449)

My first first post... and I don't have anything witty to say...

Re:It must be broken then (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28965481)

Apparently there world be no baseline metric for finding intelligent life on Slashdot these days.

Re:It must be broken then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28965555)

Fail...

An early false-negative had them worried (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28965499)

Turns out they were just over Detroit.

Re:An early false-negative had them worried (3, Funny)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965965)

I'm offended! If you'd ever actually been to or lived in Detroit you'd know that it's full of rats and cockroaches.

Re:An early false-negative had them worried (1)

Robin47 (1379745) | more than 4 years ago | (#28966515)

I'm offended! If you'd ever actually been to or lived in Detroit you'd know that it's full of rats and cockroaches.

That's life!

Re:An early false-negative had them worried (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28966955)

Turns out they were just over USA.

There, fixed it for you.

What gets me.... (4, Funny)

mark-t (151149) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965513)

"possibly vegetation"

I almost fell out of my chair when I read this

Re:What gets me.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28965623)

Actually...I'm kind of curious how it even "detects possible vegetation"

Re:What gets me.... (2)

riff420 (810435) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965649)

You've got to be kidding. Obviously it is implying that it has possibly detected vegetation, not that it has detected possible vegetation.

Re:What gets me.... (4, Interesting)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965917)

They just got a license to use this technology...

Last summer the West Virginia State Police allowed ORINCON to test the ability of hyperspectral optical technology to locate crops of marijuana. Given the success of that test, ORINCON has been invited to participate in this summer's interdiction effort to further validate the technology and demonstrate a more advanced detection unit.

http://cannabisnews.com/news/5/thread5978.shtml [cannabisnews.com]

Re:What gets me.... (1)

auLucifer (1371577) | more than 4 years ago | (#28966493)

So this satalite will be sent out to discover the universes hippys?

Re:What gets me.... (2, Funny)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#28966761)

So this satalite will be sent out to discover the universes hippys?

Ummmm NO.... Just where the aliens hide their weed...

Re:What gets me.... (4, Informative)

andy_t_roo (912592) | more than 4 years ago | (#28966309)

i believe it detected spectral anomalies which are a necessary but not sufficient condition for chlorophyll based vegetation.
ie, it is a definite detection of something matches what vegetation is expected to be like, but without more detailed info other sources of this anomaly cannot be conclusively ruled out. (unlike the spectral signature of methane, which is a much more binary choice once the SRN on your spectrometer is good enough - if you detect the absorption lines, methane is there in significant amounts, if you don't it isn't.)

Re:What gets me.... (4, Interesting)

tenco (773732) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965829)

Well, I don't know what they actually do, but i would look for a dip in the spectrum of the planet's albedo were the spectrum of the nearest star has a maximum.

Re:What gets me.... (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#28966209)

I dunno. Given a little more jungle clearing, and a little more urban sprawl - we may just get rid of all the pesky vegetation within a couple more decades. I guess we can examine the idea of electrolysis for our oxygen. No biggie, I imagine.

Re:What gets me.... (2, Informative)

woodchip (611770) | more than 4 years ago | (#28966509)

Don't worry, all the extra C02 in the atmosphere will cause more vegatation to grow.

Re:What gets me.... (1, Troll)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 4 years ago | (#28967357)

"Yes! We did it! We did it! After years of searching, billions of dollars invested, and being subject to endless ridicule, we finally achieved our mission! We now have incontrovertible proof of intraterrestrial life!"

"Um ... dude ... I think the goal is to find extraterrestrial life."

Colonization (5, Funny)

Usually Unlucky (1598523) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965525)

We should mount a robotic mission to this place right away.

Re:Colonization (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28965621)

well we don't want to mess with any possible sentient beings, so make sure to put them in Detroit or Newark

Re:Colonization (2)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965643)

Forget robots, it's high time we put a MAN on the Earth!

Re:Colonization (4, Funny)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 4 years ago | (#28966461)

Forget robots, it's high time we put a MAN on the Earth!

During the 1960's and 1970's, we sent several men from the Moon to the Earth. Tragically, all were stranded, and none ever returned to the Moon.

Re:Colonization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28967935)

... and abduct live specimens for research purposes.

Meanwhile, SETI... (3, Funny)

DrYak (748999) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965543)

At the same time, we're still waiting from the SETI's calibration and observation to discover any trace of *Intelligence* on earth.

Re:Meanwhile, SETI... (2, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965869)

I know you're joking, but there -have- been positives from SETI that actually came from Earth, so... It has.

Re:Meanwhile, SETI... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28966267)

Intelligence on EARTH you say?
UNPOSSIBLE

Re:Meanwhile, SETI... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28967825)

I didn't know that broadcasts of American Idol counted as intelligence...

NASA' LCROSS Spacecraft Discovers Life On Earth (4, Funny)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965589)

The search for intelligent life continues...

It's life, Jim (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28965605)

It's life, Jim, just as we know it, just as we know it, Jim.

Beam me sideways, Scotty, nobody on this planet knows which way is up.

Pre-empting the obvious (4, Insightful)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965659)

2 predictions:
* Lots of slashdot users trying to post something witty about why this is a new story
* trolls saying how this is everything we should expect and therefore should ignore.

to all those who disengaged their brain I ask, what would you do in their position? Hope your instruments work as designed without testing them? Either way, please devise a better test for life as we know it than life as we know it.

Re:Pre-empting the obvious (1, Redundant)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965771)

2 predictions:
* Lots of slashdot users trying to post something witty about why this is a new story
* trolls saying how this is everything we should expect and therefore should ignore.

to all those who disengaged their brain I ask, what would you do in their position? Hope your instruments work as designed without testing them? Either way, please devise a better test for life as we know it than life as we know it.

Thank you for being one of the first to post a non-redundant non-predictable post actually worth reading and that adds something to the discussion. I was wondering how much more scrolling I was going to have to do. If I had mod points I'd be making liberal use of the 'redundant', 'off topic' and 'overrated' tags around about now.

Re:Pre-empting the obvious (0, Offtopic)

PaganRitual (551879) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965793)

Well, both your predictions are wrong. It appears that it's simply attracted about 50 people, all of whom think they are the first person to think of the fact that while it found life, NONE OF IT WAS INTELLIGENT HAW HAW HAW. Apparently a sign of intelligent life is realising that your ideas aren't new and that you've likely been beaten to them, therefore all those posters comments were self-prophecising. Well done chaps.

At any rate, this is a new story because, err ... it wanted to get to the other side. Did you make a typo there or something?

Also, this is everything we should have expected and therefore it should be ignored.

While we're at it, shouldn't we be spending this money on feeding the starving?

Re:Pre-empting the obvious (3, Insightful)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965923)

>While we're at it, shouldn't we be spending this money on feeding the starving

No, because there'll always be starving. I wish humanity/life was otherwise I really do, but I don't see a long term solution where resources are finite and the exponential function is applicable.

Re:Pre-empting the obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28966427)

Indeed!

If anything, we need more starvation!
Starvation for all!
And even better, starving for free! In these terrible economic depressions, you can always bet on starvation.

We could even have charities for starvation.
You pay a dollar, we send nothing in a box to all those poor starving people to keep them smiling another day.
Bless their non-existent socks

Re:Pre-empting the obvious (1)

PaganRitual (551879) | more than 4 years ago | (#28967887)

My sarcasm attempts were obviously terrible. I was just fufilling your predictions for you and then adding in a bonus bullshit comment that normally gets digitally vomited into comments about expensive and cool space applicatons of science. I don't give a shit about the starving people, I want to get humanity into space. Preferably all the idiots. Or they can stay here. Either way, there is a lot of room out there, and it sucks to be stuck in this pale blue dot with all these fucktards.

Re:Pre-empting the obvious (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 4 years ago | (#28966507)

While we're at it, shouldn't we be spending this money on feeding the starving?

Money doesn't feed people. We already have more than enough food to feed everyone on earth. The problem is the lack of a will to do so.

Re:Pre-empting the obvious (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 4 years ago | (#28968289)

The interesting thing is that starvation happens, as far as I can tell, because of corrupt or abusive governments. E.g. the Ethiopian famines were caused by one side in a civil war trying to starve the other into submission and attempting to force collectivisation. International food aid was in fact stopped by the Ethopian government. Famines in China and Russia were caused by the government imposing collectivisation. None of these countries lack the ability to grow enough food - the famine was created by bad governments.

At that point it's tempting to consider some sort of regime change or even colonisation. Regime change can affect the people in power but it can't change the cultural norm that governments are expected to be abusive. And India had far more famines when run by the English than after independence. Actually it seems like even though there is no shortage of food, people are going to starve and there is no way to stop it.

Re:Pre-empting the obvious (3, Funny)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965905)

2 predictions: * Lots of slashdot users trying to post something witty about why this is a new story * trolls saying how this is everything we should expect and therefore should ignore.

Um, this is Slashdot. That's like betting that a coin toss will be either heads or tails.

Calibrating with Earth (4, Interesting)

Tangamandapiano (1087091) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965685)

Doesn't it suffer from a serious risk of overfitting?

jokes aside... (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965699)

A far more interesting result would have been if they hadn't been able to detect life on Earth as the inability to do so from such a close distance would make detecting Earth-like life elsewhere in the galaxy a laughable prospect.

Re:jokes aside... (1)

Smoke2Joints (915787) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965873)

not so much laughable as depressing imo.. the last thing we need are delays in this sort of thing, we should be out there exploring by now. so this is good news.

Re:jokes aside... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#28966169)

A far more interesting result would have been if they hadn't been able to detect life on Earth as the inability to do so from such a close distance would make detecting Earth-like life elsewhere in the galaxy a laughable prospect.

Free oxygen is a pretty good indicator for life. Its just that this spacecraft doesn't work that way.

NASA is trying to say.. (5, Insightful)

anonymousNR (1254032) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965705)

.. that if our machine can identify life on Earth all by itself, then we can possibly send it somewhere and it might be able to detect another planet or moon which has Earth-like life.

ITS A COOKBOOK! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28965709)

Clearly this planet has many forms of life that must be feared for their religions and copyright laws! We must sterilize this place for peace and stability!

possibly vegetation?????? (1)

dicobalt (1536225) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965719)

They must have detected the huge tree in my front yard, it's the only vegetation on the planet besides a few trillion other plants.

In other news (4, Insightful)

euxneks (516538) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965799)

NASA discovers light from the sun, and no atmosphere on the moon.

Could the summary be any more vacuous? It could have been a bit more explanatory about the nature of the satellite. (i.e. to find water on the moon - source: http://lcross.arc.nasa.gov/mission.htm [nasa.gov] )

been done before (3, Interesting)

jschen (1249578) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965863)

The spacecraft Galileo, on its way to Jupiter, performed a related experiment back in 1990. Details were published in Nature [nature.com]

How does this work on the the moon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28966079)

Isn't there a big difference between detecting water, methane, oxygen, ozone, and so on, on the earth, where they are conveniently in the atmosphere, and on the moon?

LCrOSS (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28966091)

Note to spacefellowship:

I'm going to save google some bandwidth and expand the acronym:

LCrOSS=lunar crater observation & sensing satellite

Thinking TOO HARD..... (1)

IHC Navistar (967161) | more than 4 years ago | (#28966153)

Pointless calibration.

So, they just calibrated their instruments to detect massive urbanization, a huge population, and massive amounts of water?!

They should be calibrating for FAR weaker readings, unless they expect to find a civilization just as obvious as ours.

Heck, all they would have needed to do is walk outside, or at least calibrate their instruments to detect far FAR less of what they are looking for.

Lots of money spent. (1)

MrShaggy (683273) | more than 4 years ago | (#28966159)

.' During the Earth observations, the spacecraft's spectrometers were able to detect the signatures of the Earth's water, ozone, methane, oxygen, carbon dioxide and possibly vegetation."

Just to see a Fart-in-a-jar.

How about intellegence ? (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 4 years ago | (#28966237)

A experiment to detect intellegent life couldn't be tested before sending into space.

Necromancers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28966703)

Meanwhile, we necromancers remain hidden and oblivious...

Whew! That was close... (2, Funny)

crath (80215) | more than 4 years ago | (#28967437)

...if it had found "intelligent life" that would have been a false positive.

Why this is significant/how it works. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28968049)

So it mentions that they detect levels of methane, oxygen, carbon dioxide, etc. etc.

In an uninhabited planet, methane and oxygen are two completely incompatible chemicals (over a time period which is considered tiny on astronomical scales, these two chemicals to react to form carbon dioxide.) Therefore, the coexistence of methane and oxygen implies that a process is actively forming these two molecules, so that an equilibrium is reached between production and decay. This process, in other words, is photosynthesis, which in turn, implies life.

The idea is that if we can detect incompatible chemicals in the atmospheres of extrasolar planets, then we have a strong clue that life is on that planet, and what better way to calibrate our sensors than by pointing it at ourselves?

Re:Why this is significant/how it works. (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 4 years ago | (#28968361)

The nice thing is that it seems to be completely general - if you spot two gases that should react being present you can tell that something is up. The only problem is that it only works with Earth like planets with an atmosphere. I can imagine life in the ocean on Europa but that's obviously inaccessible to this sort of experiment.

You Fail it?! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28968101)

DemIse. You don't
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