OpinionIt's a waste of time to spend money to search for (microscopic) life on Mars, and planning to send astronauts to a dead planet. We should just get on and start sending extremophiles there now to make the place more habitable.
      – Lee J Haywood, 2009-10-05 at 10:15:25   (9 comments)

On 2009-10-05 at 10:16:51, Lee J Haywood wrote...
I think it makes sense to send a few probes to Mars and look for obvious signs of life, but at what point do you stop looking? If there's no life at all, it's a fool's errand to keep saying that there might be signs of it here or there - plenty of geological processes could produce red herrings.
On 2009-10-05 at 14:17:54, DigitalBoss wrote...
It is too soon too deliberately contaminate the planet.
On 2009-10-05 at 17:12:12, Lee J Haywood wrote...
And when isn't it too soon? In 10 years, 100 years or 1,000 years? If we send astronauts there within the next 100 years, aren't we going to contaminate the planet anyway?
On 2009-10-05 at 20:20:26, BorgClown wrote...
If terraforming is a certainty, it makes sense to deliberately spoil a planet and leave the rest for investigation. Europa is the most likely body to harvest life, so it's not much of a waste to spoil the Mars or Venus. Terraforming takes centuries, we could wait one or two before proceeding.
On 2009-10-05 at 21:18:32, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Europa suffers from having a surface temperature of around -148°C, compared with Mars which goes up to around -5°C. I'd say Mars is the most likely candidate for life, but I doubt it has much natural potential.
On 2009-10-06 at 02:15:29, BorgClown wrote...
The surface temperature is not that relevant. All Jovian satellites are being constantly squeezed gravitationally, so Europa must have some spots warm enough for liquid water.
On 2009-10-06 at 09:20:57, Lee J Haywood wrote...
I realise that having some liquid water means that life can survive there, but would it actually develop and evolve there? I suspect that on Earth we had lots of mini-experiments taking place over the whole surface and, at perhaps just one point, a self-replicating molecule appeared and led to us. Europa isn't like the early Earth - it's got a very static environment and doesn't provide a bath of amino acids to feed on. You might send life there and have it grow, if you were lucky. Mars is almost as bad, admittedly - it isn't hospitable either, although it does permit a greater speed of development.
On 2009-10-06 at 20:01:05, BorgClown wrote...
How could we know? Time will tell.
On 2009-10-06 at 20:02:41, BorgClown wrote...
If there's life in other planets, space agencies should culture a sample and sell it as souvenirs to finance themselves =)