NASA scientists announced
yesterday that the Curiosity rover has detected methane on the planet Mars.
The announcement, which was discussed at some length in the New York Times
and detailed in a peer-reviewed article in Science, is of extraordinary
The origin of the methane
discovered by Curiosity is unknown.
However, because of the high level of ambient ultraviolet radiation, methane
cannot last in the Martian atmosphere for more than a few decades. Therefore, any methane found on Mars today had to be made recently, and not in the distant past.
Furthermore, there are only two
ways that methane could be created on today’s Mars: via biogenic or
hydrothermal processes. Therefore, either Curiosity
has actually found life on the Red Planet, or it has provided proof of a
subsurface environment that could readily support life.
In addition, another
striking aspect of the Curiosity
discovery is that the concentration of methane detected varies sharply over
time. That can only be the case if the source of the methane is locally
concentrated, as a globally spread source could not cause such sharp
variations. Thus, there may be a patch of ground relatively close to Curiosity which is the source of the
emissions, and, therefore, a prime target to drill in an attempt to find subsurface
life. Similar biologically suspect spots may well exist elsewhere. We need to locate
such spots, and then send human explorers to drill and find out what lies
Is life unique to Earth or
a general phenomenon in the universe? Is life as we know it on Earth the
pattern for all life everywhere or are we just one example drawn from a much
vaster array of possibilities? These are questions that thinking men and women
have pondered for thousands of years. Curiosity
has now revealed to us where the answers may finally be found.
For the past four decades,
NASA’s human spaceflight program has been adrift, seeking to find a purpose for
itself without success. That purpose has now been found.
Mars. If we wish to know,
we must go.
[Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SAM-GSFC/Univ. of Michigan]
Support Mars exploration, research and education by helping the Mars Society!
The Mars Society is the world's largest and most influential space advocacy organization dedicated to the human exploration and settlement of the planet Mars.
Established by Dr. Robert Zubrin and others in 1998, our group works to educate the public, the media and government on the benefits of exploring Mars and creating a permanent human presence on the Red Planet.
Mars Society activities include:
+ Mars analog simulations in Utah and Canada
+ The University Rover Challenge
+ The Youth Rover Challenge
+ Public outreach and educational programs
+ Political advocacy efforts
+ Privately-funded research
+ Chapter meetings in the U.S. and around the world
+ The Annual International Mars Society Convention
Please consider a donation (tax deductible in the U.S.) to the Mars Society to help advance our work to promote humans-to-Mars! Get involved today!
The following is the final report of Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) Crew 144, which recently wrapped up its two week field visit to the Mars Society's Mars surface
simulation facility in southern Utah.
Mission Summary By Greg Leonard
Two weeks ago, crew members from across the globe arrived in the remote, high desert town of Hanksville, Utah, home of the Mars Society’s ‘Mars Desert Research Station’ (MDRS) astronaut analog facility, in great anticipation for our MDRS-144 mission. In the two weeks that followed, this Mars analog research facility became a center for interdisciplinary research, creative outreach, and most importantly a training and proving ground for living and working within the confines of a simulated Mars surface exploration mission. We all believe, very soon, that humans will break the bonds of Earth to begin human-based Mars research exploration and settlement on the Red Planet.
There was a palpable sense of validation in our shared dream of Mars exploration, supported by the fact that despite coming from different nationalities (USA, UK, Brazil, Finland, and Japan), age generations, genders, and professional disciplines, the crew is here together and willing to provide service to the advancement of space pioneerism. In addition to our MDRS mission, the team members are finalist candidates for the Mars Arctic 365 (MA365) mission scheduled to take place at the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) in the Canadian Arctic in 2015. We are competing with two other highly qualified teams for the opportunity to test ourselves and demonstrate human capability to survive and thrive at FMARS.
To read the full mission report, please click here.
The Mars Society is pleased to announce that Crew 144 completed its two week visit
to the Utah-based Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) today, ending the
field testing and training period for finalist candidates for the Mars
Arctic 365 (MA365) mission. For additional details about the MA365 program, please click here.
MARS DESERT RESEARCH STATION, Utah (Dec. 9, 2014) -- A U.S. Army 1st lieutenant is competing to spend a year on a Canadian Island with the Mars Arctic 365 program.
At the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, 1st Lt. Heidi Beemer is taking part in a Mars simulation this month.
Beemer is a decontamination platoon leader from the 63rd Chemical Company, 83rd Chemical Battalion, 48th Chemical Brigade, 20th CBRNE Command (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives), the U.S. Department of Defense's only formation that combats CBRNE threats around the world.
Beemer, a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, said three teams are competing to be the first crew to spend one year in an analog Martian simulation at the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station on Devon Island, Canada.
The program is run by the Mars Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to human Martian exploration research.
following is the final report of Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) Crew 143,
which recently completed its nearly two week field rotation at the Mars
Society's Mars surface simulation facility in southern Utah.
When Crew 143 arrived at the Mars Desert
Research Station (MDRS) on the afternoon of November 15, each crew member had
only just met the others barely a day before. The Crew is a cross section of
disciplines and nationalities from around the world, including professions from
the sciences, engineering and journalism with the countries of Canada, France,
Russia, and the United States of America represented. English and French were
the primary languages that helped bind this crew together and with a shared
interest in space, everyone was eager to not only pursue their own research
goals, but to assist others with the performing of theirs.
To read the full Crew 143 report, please click here.
The Mars Society is pleased to announce that the 2015-2016 Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) field season application is now available on the MDRS web site.
There are special crew opportunities for this upcoming season. Crew 156 will be an all engineering team, while Crew 170 is open to all veteran MDRS crew members who served on Crews 1-70. Standard fees are waived for both of these crews. We are also accepting crew applications for one, three and four week rotations at MDRS.
For more details and a listing of other crew options, please visit the MDRS web site.