Physics, Earth & Space
Life on Mars! Again!
Perhaps with all the budget debates in Congress, NASA now fears budget cuts more than once a year, necessitating semi-annual life-on-Mars stories. Discovery News (no relation) has the story:
Scientists have found water-bearing deposits on Mars that are out of step with what was happening elsewhere on the planet, raising the prospect that the sites could have hosted Martian life’s last stand.
The deposits are a type of clay called smectites, which contain a blend of silica with aluminum, iron or magnesium. They form in the presence of water.
The deposits were found in an unlikely locale — roughly 30 feet up from the ground inside two troughs in Noctis Labyrinthus (“the labyrinth of the night”), a maze-like system of deep valleys located near the western end of the massive Valles Marineris canyon that cuts across the face of Mars.
Actually, this story is oddly out of synch with the usual life-on-Mars reporting timeline. It’s been way less than the standard seven-month minimum waiting period since the last breathless report of possible life on Mars.
If the reporting on this type of news speeds up any faster we’ll see further headlines about finding the missing link next week, the elation of finding another Earth-like planet the week after, and the depressing realization that none of it was true just in time to drown our sorrows in tiny Three Musketeers and Almond Joy bars on Halloween.