Evidence of possible life on Mars

NASA’s Curiosity rover has found new evidence that adds weight to the possibility there has been life on Mars (in the distant past).

NASA’s Curiosity rover has found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet could have supported ancient life, as well as new evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the search for current life on the Red Planet. While not necessarily evidence of life itself, these findings are a good sign for future missions exploring the planet’s surface and subsurface.

This low-angle self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the site from which it reached down to drill in

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at the site from which it reached down
to drill into a rock target called “Buckskin” on lower Mount Sharp.

The new findings – “tough” organic molecules in three-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks near the surface, as well as seasonal variations in the levels of methane in the atmosphere – appear in the June 8 edition of the journal Science.

Organic molecules contain carbon and hydrogen, and also may include oxygen, nitrogen and other elements. While commonly associated with life, organic molecules also can be created by non-biological processes and are not necessarily indicators of life.

“With these new findings, Mars is telling us to stay the course and keep searching for evidence of life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, in Washington. “I’m confident that our ongoing and planned missions will unlock even more breathtaking discoveries on the Red Planet.”

“Curiosity has not determined the source of the organic molecules,” said Jen Eigenbrode of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who is lead author of one of the two new Science papers. “Whether it holds a record of ancient life, was food for life, or has existed in the absence of life, organic matter in Martian materials holds chemical clues to planetary conditions and processes.”

Although the surface of Mars is inhospitable today, there is clear evidence that in the distant past, the Martian climate allowed liquid water – an essential ingredient for life as we know it – to pool at the surface. Data from Curiosity reveal that billions of years ago, a water lake inside Gale Crater held all the ingredients necessary for life, including chemical building blocks and energy sources.

Mars isn’t an easy place to escape to if things turn pear shaped on Earth, but if life is proven to have survived there in the past it would add weight to the lack of uniqueness of life on Earth.

A Day in the Life

Because people often ask Andrew (Little) what an average day at Parliament is like, he thought he’d share one with you.

Life and Death and Cannabis

Helen Kelly has a guest post at The Standard on Life and Death and Cannabis.

I am taking Cannabis Oil to manage my pain as my lung cancer takes over my body. It’s sort of as simple as that really. For some people talking about dying is confronting but actually talking about it allows us to think about how it happens – it is actually as much a social event as a physical one and knowing someone is comfortable, getting good treatment and pain relief is very much part of the social dimension as the physical one.

She then details what is required to get to use a cannabis derived medical product. And what she is having to try because that’s such a rigmarole.

I have been taking Kytruda (the drug all the publicity is about – a break though for melanoma and has had some success with lung cancer but not with me). I have paid for is (this is what Kiwisaver will be for in the future – to subsidise our underfunded health system). It is completely experimental and the Doctors admit it – they don’t know who it works with, why, exactly how or really even how to administer it the most efficiently – but oh fill me up with it – exactly because I have nothing to lose. I have also had whole brain radiation – massively dangerous – huge side effects possible – I have been lucky – but I can’t take cannabis?

What she wants:

 I would like a referendum on the issue at the next election – and I am hoping a Bill might be sponsored to that effect  (collecting signatures is not necessary and John Key has shown with the flag – you just need a Bill). It could be run at the election to save money and my bet is it will be overwhelmingly supported.

I think we could change this situation with a little more push – a few leaders speaking out in support, an exposure of the current system refusal by refusal and with real stories of people with real illness just wanting to live the end of their life with a bit of dignity.

It’s very sad that a dying person is having to hope that our politicians will stop ducking for cover, avoiding addressing something that many other countries are advancing on, including the US, Canada and Australia.

It’s bloody stupid that one of the mostly widely used drugs in the country cannot legally be used by someone in the last months of their life.

The whole post is well worth reading – especially by our politicians.

Life and Death and Cannabis.

Life of Pie

Life of Pie

Pie and circumference are related.

Original source unknown, taken off Facebook (George Takei) where it has obviously been popular, currently 99,621 likes and 82903 shares.

If you’re not aware, this is a spoof on a highly rated movie, Life of Pi.

Life of Pi