So in the past few weeks there has been a number of announcements (and an apparent hoax) coming from the investigation of Mars from the new rover that arrived there earlier this year. In any case, it would seem that NASA is excited to tell us some important findings which will 'be something for this history books' but understandably is also reservedly waiting to confirm their findings before releasing these findings to the public. Its an exciting time!
At this point we have absolutely no idea what exactly that finding may be, but being human its difficult not to speculate. My suspicion (and hope) is that they have found a fossilized remnant of extinct life on mars. Why do I suspect this?
Well, two reasons. The first is that NASA has recently given the first evidence for liquid water having existed on the planets surface in Mars' ancient history. These pebbles would have been worn down by the same sort of weathering that we have here on Earth and could well have harbored life long ago.
The second reason for suspecting this lies with one of the older rovers which has been on Mars since 2004. They suspect that the area that Opportunity has been driving over the past few weeks is actually made of old clay. Clay of course requires vast amounts of water to change the chemical composition of various rocks and minerals, but what is more important is that this water has to be of a neutral Ph level. This of course is also the same 'Goldilocks' requirement for life as we know it to live comfortably.
If I am correct then this could have far reaching consequences for us as a species. Our religions, philosophical and scientific understanding will all have to change completely, but of course for every question answered, the law of entropy dictates that there will simply be more questions to ask.It would not be completely unfeasible that a discovery of life outside our own planet could spell big social problems for us back home. For instance, will life on Earth be thought of with less respect, will it be seen simply as some inevitable outcome of minerals in rocks that crop up all over the cosmos? Will it lead to a greater acceptance of projects to do with cybernetics, will humanity treat itself differently knowing we are simply just an expression of something ultimately common and mundane?
Of course this could also inspire humanity to reach out and leave its mark on the universe we find ourselves in. To spread life throughout space and to rekindle our recently lost love for adventure and exploration. There are of course already some thought provoking ideas to do with getting mankind out exploring.
The Mars One project is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to put a base on Mars within the next few decades, but there is a tiny issue to do with a one-way-flight that makes the proposition a bit of an issue. Personally, I don't see a problem with having a crew of people go to their deaths having had the experience of a life-time, especially if you could source a crew with medical issues which would prove fatal within a decade anyway. There would in my opinion have to be extremely vigorous psychological testing of individuals to make sure that they could deal with the knowledge that they would die never stepping foot on their home planet again. I personally couldn't do that.
I also have reservations that once the honeymoon period of landing on another planet is over it could get incredibly boring. There is only so much one can stare at barren rock and take soil samples!