Mars Is Not a “Life-Friendly” Star Wars Planet
The new Mars InSight lander that launched this morning will be digging for geology, not life. Most likely, as before, it will find lifeless dirt and rock.
In a pre-launch piece at the Los Angeles Times, Amina Khan speaks of the planet Mars with the suggestive phrase “life-friendly” twice: e.g.,
Rovers, landers and orbiting spacecraft have found evidence of lakes, rivers, volcanoes and life-friendly chemical combinations on Mars. Seismology allows scientists to glimpse the internal machinations that led to those features.
It takes a vivid imagination, though, to speak of a dry, dusty surface permeated with salts and toxic perchlorates as “life-friendly.” One cannot blame Khan alone for having an overactive imagination. NASA itself, perennially saturated with a hydrobioscopic view of the universe, justifies almost all of its Mars propaganda with the illogical syllogism that water implies life. Mars, however, is not much more habitable than Europa, Titan, Enceladus or its other favorite candidates for watery lagoons replete with evolved organisms.
Another result of NASA’s “life-friendly” astrobiological perspective shows up in its support for the Star Wars cult. The NASA/JPL “PlanetQuest” Twitter account capitalized on “Star Wars Day” and the launch of the latest sequel, “Solo: A Star Wars Story” with a series of tweets comparing the film franchise’s fake planets with real exoplanets found by NASA’s Kepler mission.
The Mars InSight mission overview page, however, does not mention life. It doesn’t even mention searching for water. The mission will be looking at raw geology:
Previous missions to Mars have investigated the surface history of the Red Planet by examining features like canyons, volcanoes, rocks and soil. However, signatures of the planet’s formation can only be found by sensing and studying its “vital signs” far below the surface.
In comparison to the other terrestrial planets, Mars is neither too big nor too small. This means that it preserves the record of its formation and can give us insight into how the terrestrial planets formed. It is the perfect laboratory from which to study the formation and evolution of rocky planets. Scientists know that Mars has low levels of geological activity. But a lander like InSight can also reveal just how active Mars really is.
Here, “vital signs” and “evolution” refer to geological processes, not life. The primary instruments on InSight are a seismometer and a heat sensor that will be driven 5 meters down below the surface. It has no instruments to look for life.
Do the NASA publicists at JPL feel a need to titillate the public with tweets about life, when the real mission scientists are more interested in geology? None of the spokespersons in Khan’s article talk about life, either. Khan must have just assumed that JPL is digging for “life-friendly” conditions because of the lab’s perennial promotion of astrobiology.
The pseudoscience of astrobiology, as we reported (11 Apr 2018), has nothing to show for it since the “science” was invented in 1996. It came about because of another media flap about Mars life when overactive imaginations saw possible organisms in a Martian meteorite that landed in Antarctica. Later falsified, the rock did its damage. Duped by all the fake science of Martian life, the federal government funded NASA’s Astrobiology Institute, which continues promoting hydrobioscopy and SETI to this day in its Astrobiology Magazine., complete with its cartoons like “The Abominable Snow Aliens of Europa.”
Some of the narrators and guests in mission control after the launch continued fact-free speculation about the possibility of life on Mars. Fox News said, “Scientists say they hope the experiment will provide them with clues about what Mars was like in the past and if those conditions could have accommodated life.”
Update 5/08/18: Another paper on Space.com equated water with life, and yet admitted that perchlorate is hostile to prebiotic chemistry: “A new experiment designed to detect amino acids on Mars, in spite of the reactive perchlorate in the Martian soil that typically breaks organic compounds down, could fly on a future mission to Mars to help in the search for life there.” The word ‘life’ appears two dozen times in this short article.
CEH supports planetary exploration. The astrobiology part is superfluous, useless and illogical, but the gathering of new data from space has a long track record of supporting creation. How? By showing that the solar system is young, and by showing the uniqueness of the Earth. We expect that trend will continue if InSight succeeds. Place your bets now.