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Mars is not the best place to look for life

EccentricAnomaly (451326) writes | about 3 years ago

Mars 1

EccentricAnomaly (451326) writes "A story over at Science News quotes Alan Stern (former head of NASA Science missions) as saying: "The three strongest candidates [for extraterrestrial life] are all in the outer solar system" He's referring to Europa, Titan, and Enceladus. So why is NASA spending $2.5B on the next Mars Rover and planning to spend over $6B more on a Mars sample return when it can't find the money for much cheaper missions to Europa or Enceladus?"
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Why did the (drunk) look for his keys... (1)

wisebabo (638845) | about 3 years ago | (#37725344)

... under the streetlight?

Because that's where the light was!

Looking for life on Mars has some of that element. Getting to Mars is cheaper (and a lot faster not requiring any fuel saving, time consuming gravity assists) than the outer solar system. We also know how to land on dirt, drive on dirt and scrape up dirt; we have no idea how to land on ice in vacuum (will it cause the ice to "geyser" or some other phenomenon), drill through (steel hard) ice and then perhaps send an autonomous submersible under kilometers of instantly freezing ice. So NASA has a natural desire to explore where it's easier (where the light is).

This is fine for finding fossilized life which may very well be present on Mars but like Alan Stern says, there is a higher chance of life currently existing on Europa, Titan or Enceladus (wow auto correct knew the spelling!). Titan is my pick for the reasons pointed out by professor Peter Ward in his book "life as we do not know it". He says there is a chance that there could be life there based on one or more of THREE distinctly different biochemistries. I think it was water hydrocarbons (like earth), ethane and maybe silicon? (sorry it's been a while). Unfortunately, due to the fact that America is broke I'm afraid it'll be a long time before we see any Titan balloon/rover/boat/submersibles in action. :(

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