NASA recently announced that the Mars Rover (Red Rover, get it?) had dug up something of historic significance. Not a Buffalo nickel, not Jimmy Hoffa, and not Ylla’s gun that shoots demon bees as this article said in an attempt at humor [article link].
The answer is we don’t know what they will say because NASA is vetting its data so that when it states that it has found life, or signs of life, or more likely, signs of past life; then it will be in a scientifically defensible position.
Remember NASA got shot down by the origins of life theorists when it threatened their grant acquisition status with the declaration that aspects of meteorite ALH84001 “… considered collectively… are evidence of primitive life on early Mars.”
This statement was targeted in a barrage of challenges, when considered collectively, caused NASA to lose face and withdraw its claim. I remain unconvinced that NASA was wrong, but like in a court of law, it was expected to prove beyond a doubt that it was right.
Unfortunately, much of scientific truth is determined by the rhetoric of key figures as received by a jury of their less creative and insightful, possibly even politically motivated, peers. Ultimately the truth wins based on irrefutable evidence. Up until then, the detractors will dig in and go for one more government grant to strengthen a position that they may already see is a loser, but someone has to keep bread on the table, right?
Given the number of loser programs sponsored with our government money, don’t you think NASA would continue to be funded? The mission to Mars is to our future like Lucy climbing down out of the tree was to our present. And just like Lucy, some of what they learn will be critical to our survival.
There are a ton of wonderful discoveries about Mars that NASA could announce and any one of them would be historic. Heck, the fact that the rover is there and functioning as planned is historic, but they are going to announce life on Mars aren’t they? After all, this is a grudge match isn’t it?
Link to We’re NASA and We Know It