February 25, 2020 | David F. Coppedge

Mars InSighters and Mars InBlinders

The Mars Insight lander has been on the red planet for a year, looking for evidence of geological activity and life.

The first year’s findings from the Mars InSight lander have come to journals and popular media. Here’s a taste of the reports.

Five things we have learned about Mars from NASA’s InSight mission (New Scientist): Leah Crane’s list includes (1) 24 marsquakes magnitude 3-4; (2) 174 smaller marsquakes; (3) Mars is not as dry as the moon, but seems to have minerals that contain water; (4) a magnetic field 10 times stronger than earlier believed, though it is still patchy; (5) ten thousand dust devils but not a single photo of them, because most of the vortices detected by sensors apparently haven’t been strong enough to lift dust.

Magnetic field at Martian surface ten times stronger than expected (University of British Columbia). The magnetic field is not only ten times stronger than anticipated, but it also fluctuates over periods of seconds to days. InSight is the first mission to place a magnetic detector on the surface. The fluctuations are believed to be caused by the solar wind, because Mars’ atmosphere is too thin to protect the planet.

Scientists have known that Mars had an ancient global magnetic field billions of years ago that magnetized rocks on the planet, before mysteriously switching off. Because most rocks at the surface are too young to have been magnetized by this ancient field, the team thinks it must be coming from deeper underground.

“We think it’s coming from much older rocks that are buried anywhere from a couple hundred feet to ten kilometres below ground,” said Johnson.

Artist rendition of InSight’s geophysical experiments (NASA)

Details are in an open-access paper in Nature Geoscience. How could a magnetic field just switch off? Did they observe this? No; consensus theory requires it, because they already ‘know’ that Mars is as old as the solar system, 4.5 billion Darwin Years ago. “The most accepted timing scenario is one in which the dynamo terminated by ~4.1 billion years ago.” Did somebody flip a switch?

Mars is a seismically active world, first results from NASA’s InSight lander reveal (Space.com). Because Mars lacks plate tectonics, the marsquakes must be coming from shrinkage of the core as it cools. Some quakes have been traced to a volcanic flow near Cerberus Fossae region, a thousand miles away from the lander. A JPL spokesperson “stressed that this is a hypothesis, not a definitive determination of what’s going on at Cerberus Fossae. Indeed, though mission team members think they understand Martian seismicity in broad strokes, they’re still trying to nail down how it works in detail.” This sounds like the Darwinians who think they understand natural selection in broad strokes (bacteria to man), but are trying to nail down the details.

Nasa’s InSight probe senses hundreds of ‘Marsquakes’ (BBC News). Jonathan Amos quotes the mission’s principal investigator Bruce Banerdt saying, “Mars is far from being a dull, dead planet; it’s an active one.” But scientists need a ‘big one’ or a large meteorite strike to learn more. The article includes graphics of the lander’s instruments, and also a map of where previous missions have landed. Amos adds that the heat-sensor ‘mole’ that was supposed to dig 10 feet down has not been able to penetrate the hard surface. Scientists plan to ‘push’ on it with the robotic arm.

Those are the findings; now, the storytelling

Scientists eye the Martian underground in search for alien life (Space.com). Leonard David’s storytime begins with the ‘could’ words. “The subsurface offers a protected, and possibly habitable, environment.” Count the ‘life’ words in the first few sentences:

The search for present-day life on Mars is heating up. And for good reason: An improved knowledge of Mars’ geologic diversity and history, a better appreciation of life in extreme environments here on Earth, and a sharp focus on sensitive life-detection measurement methods are all bolstering the Mars-life hunt, giving scientists more reason to think that they just might find something.

Still, the issue of life on Mars demands new scientific concepts and knowledge concerning where to explore on the Red Planet and what to measure.

How much life was actually found? Zilch. But scientists love to talk about it. They met at a conference in Carlsbad, New Mexico and had a wonderful time telling whoppers about Martian life.

NASA thinks alien life might be hiding underground in ancient caves on Mars (Fox News Science). Remember the old days when scientists expected civilizations building canals all over Mars? That heyday of Martian hopes has fallen to near despair for astrobiologists. Now, it is down to looking in lava tubes for microbes underground. Feel the undying hope:

Speaking at the Mars Extant Life conference, Stamenković reportedly said: “The surface of Mars is a very oxidizing, radiation-heavy environment where liquid water is not really stable for an extended amount of time.

“It’s the worst place to look for life-sites on Mars.

“Groundwater might be the only habitat for extant life on Mars, if it still exists today.”

The surface of Mars is cold, dry and there is lots of radiation.

Underground could be more habitable for life forms and may have some form of stable water supply.

Hope Spreads Throughout the Cosmos

The Earth formed much faster than previously thought (University of Copenhagen). Performing divination on meteorite crystals, Professor Martin Bizzarro from StarPlan sees a vision. Comparing minerals from Martian meteorites, he sees Earth forming very fast – equivalent to finishing in 90 seconds flat on a 24-hour clock. He envisions dust falling quickly toward a proto-Earth, eager to make a [privileged] planet where life, including his brain, will emerge mindlessly and blindly. Laura Geggel at Live Science jumps to her feet and applauds this theater of the absurd.

Dust from meteorites that crash-landed on Earth have revealed that Earth’s precursor, known as proto-Earth, formed much faster than previously thought, a new study finds.

An analysis of this meteorite dust showed that proto-Earth formed within about 5 million years, which is extremely fast, astronomically speaking.

And if it happened that way here, Bizzarro continues, it could be happening all over. More planets – more water – perhaps more life! “The theory makes the ingredients of life, as we know it, more likely to be found elsewhere in the universe,” announces the showman for Bizzarro World in reverberating tones.

There is a must-read essay for anyone worrying that Bizzarro’s thinking might have some credibility. Read James Tour’s chapter, “We’re Still Clueless About the Origin of Life,” in the new reprint of the classic 1986 book, The Mystery of Life’s Origin. That book by Thaxton, Bradley and Olsen had a lot to do with putting momentum into the intelligent design movement. Their tone was cautious and tentative back then. Now, with all we know in 2020, Dr Tour steps on the gas to drag OOL believers through the mud like a Hollywood western giving the bad guy the treatment he deserves. You will laugh. Here’s an excerpt:

Chemical synthesis experiments in the origin of life can be summed up by a protocol analogous to this:

  • Purchase some chemicals, generally in high purity, from a chemical company.
  • Mix those chemicals together in water in high concentrations and a specific order under some set of carefully devised conditions in a modern laboratory….
  • Obtain a mixture of compounds that have a resemblance to one or more of the four basic chemicals needed for life… not in homochiral form.
  • Identify the desired compound in a mixture of many other … products. Then buy (or make, using modern non-abiotic methods) a purified version of that desired compound and proceed to the next step.
  • Publish a paper making bold extrapolations about origin of life from these functionless crude mixtures of stereochemically scrambled intermediates.
  • Engage with the often over-zealous press to dial up the knob of unjustified origin-of-life projections.
  • Watch the misled and mesmerized layperson exclaim, “You see, scientists understand how life formed!”
  • Accept a generation of science textbooks yielding colorful, deceptive cartoons of raw chemicals assembling into cells, which then emerge as slithering creatures from a prehistoric pond.  (from The Mystery of Life’s Origin: The Continuing Controversy, ch. 13 by James Tour, pp 326-327).

Dr Tour continues by giving a dozen hurdles and more challenges to OOL researchers that render it impossible.

Anybody with faith to believe in secular origin of life deserves a trip to Mars – without a spacesuit. Fly a balloon over his head, “Evolve – or perish!”

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