Sunday, 18 January 2009

Life on Mars

mars[1]Ever since the Martian canals were spotted and mapped and mis-interpreted as artificial structures in the late 19th century, we’ve been fascinated with the idea that our closest neighbour might harbour life.

The latest piece of the puzzle is the discovery of plumes of methane in the Martian atmosphere.

They could indicate volcanic activity, but the absence of sulphides make that unlikely. The more likely explanation is some sort of biological origin.

Sadly it’s unlikely to be herds of farting Martian cows. Probably just clusters of Martian bacteria. Still. Life.

mars%20atmosphere[1]It’s all very exciting, but in the main it’s just announcements of ongoing work on some old observations.

The plumes were first seen (and announced to much fanfare) back in 2003.

The cynical part of me thinks that the timing is particularly convenient, given the new US administration, the whole financial crisis and the fact that NASA’s budgets are being very closely examined.

But hey, what do I know?

The non-cynical part of me is just damn excited about the whole thing.

And that part’s winning at the moment.