Showing posts with label Alien Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alien Life. Show all posts

Quantum Computing Application To Detect Alien Life

While quantum computing may take many years to become commonplace in everyday life, the technology has already been enlisted to aid in the hunt for life in outer space. 

Zapata Computing, a quantum software firm, is collaborating with the University of Hull in the United Kingdom on research to assess Zapata's Orquestra quantum workflow platform, which will be used to improve a quantum application intended to identify signs of life in outer space. 

The assessment is not a controlled demonstration of characteristics, according to Dr David Benoit, Senior Lecturer in Molecular Physics and Astrochemistry at the University of Hull, but rather a study using real-world data. 

He said,

 "We're looking at how Orquestra works in realistic processes that utilize quantum computing to give typical real-life data." 

"Rather than a demonstration of skills, we're looking for actual usable data in this endeavor." 

Before the team releases an analysis of the study, the assessment will run for eight weeks. 

According to the parties, this will be the first of many partnerships between Zapata and the University of Hull for quantum astrophysics applications. 

The announcement comes as many quantum computing behemoths, including Google, IBM, Amazon, and Honeywell, were scheduled to attend a White House conference sponsored by the Biden administration to explore developing quantum computing applications. 

In certain instances, academics have resorted to quantum computing to finish tasks that would take too long for traditional computers to complete, and Benoit said the University of Hull is in a similar position. 

"The tests envisioned are still something that a traditional computer can perform," he said, "but, the computing time needed to get the answer has a factorial scale, meaning that bigger applications are likely to take days, months, or years to complete" (along with a very large amount of memory). 

The quantum equivalent is capable of solving such issues in a sub-factorial way (possibly quartic scaling), but this does not necessarily imply that it is quicker for all systems; rather, it means that the computing effort is significantly decreased for big systems. 

We're looking for a scalable method to do precise computations in our application, and quantum computers can help us achieve that. 

What is the scope of the job at hand? 

In 2016, MIT researchers proposed a list of more than 14,000 chemicals that may reveal indications of life in the atmospheres of far-away exoplanets, according to a statement from Zapata. 

However, nothing is presently understood about how these molecules vibrate and spin in response to neighboring stars' infrared light. 

Using new computer models of molecule rotations and vibrations, the University of Hull is attempting to create a library of observable biological fingerprints. 

Though quantum computing models have challenges in fault tolerance and error correction, Benoit claims that researchers are unconcerned about the performance of so-called Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum (NISQ) devices. 

"We consider the fact that the findings will be noisy as a beneficial thing since our approach really utilizes the statistical character of the noise/errors to try to get an accurate answer," he added. 

"Clearly, the better the mistake correction or the quieter the equipment, the better the result." 

However, utilizing Orquestra allows us to possibly switch platforms without having to re-implement significant portions of the code, which means we can easily compute with better hardware as it becomes available." 

Orquestra will enable researchers "produce important insights" from NISQ devices, according to Benoit, and researchers will be able to "create applications that utilize these NISQ devices today with the potential to exploit the more powerful quantum devices of the future." 

As a consequence, scientists should be able to do "very precise estimates of the fundamental variable determining atom-atom interactions — electrical correlation," which may enhance their capacity to identify the building elements of life in space. This is critical because even basic molecules like oxygen or nitrogen have complicated interactions that require very precise computations."

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

You may also want to read more about Quantum Computing here.

Space Mission Planning

The first thing to consider when planning a space trip is why we want to undertake it and what we expect to gain from the findings. 

The following issues concern the enterprise's viability, as indicated by the following questions: 

    • How much does it set you back? 
    • Is it reasonably priced? 
    • Can it be done technically (and politically)? 
    • How safe is it, and what are the chances of it failing? 
    • Can we launch (and potentially build) the necessary vehicles in space? 

Without putting in a lot of time and effort into early research and modeling, even rough solutions to these issues are difficult to come by. 

Additionally, there are a variety of architectural variants in space ships, their sequencing, phasing, and destinations that may be used to carry out such a space mission. 

“Mission architectures” or simply “architectures” are the terms used to describe these different variants. Conducting thorough studies of each possible architectural alternative would require substantial financial resources as well as a significant amount of time and work. 

  • Furthermore, while planning a human trip to Mars, it is virtually difficult to predict what the status of marginal technologies like nuclear propulsion and large-scale aero entry will be many decades from now. 
  • As a result, the most common method includes a rudimentary first study to evaluate architectural alternatives, from which a small selection of preferred designs may be determined that should be investigated further. 

The initial mass in low Earth orbit (IMLEO) is often used as an approximate gauge of mission cost in early planning, and since IMLEO can generally be predicted to some degree, it is frequently used as a proxy for mission cost. 

  • This is predicated on the idea that when comparing a set of possible missions to accomplish a given objective, the quantity of "stuff" that has to be transported to LEO is a significant driver of the cost.
  • IMLEO is the overall mass in LEO at the start, but it doesn't say how that total mass is divided up into individual vehicles. 
  • Unless on-orbit assembly is used, the mass of the biggest spacecraft in LEO determines the requirements for launch vehicle capacity (how much mass a launch vehicle must lift in “one fell swoop”). 

As a result, the early planning of space missions, as well as the preliminary selection of mission designs, is based on two linked parameters: 

(1) IMLEO, and 

(2) the necessary launch vehicle and number of launches. 

It's critical to realize that the requirements for space missions are driven by the need for vehicles to accelerate to great speeds. 

  • Unlike a car, which has a big crew compartment and a tiny petrol tank, most spacecraft have huge propellant tanks and a small crew cabin. 
  • A space mission is made up of many propulsion stages, each of which contains more propellants than cargo. 

Each propulsion step necessitates the acceleration of both the cargo and the propellants set aside for subsequent acceleration steps. 

  • As a consequence, the majority of IMLEO is spent on propellants rather than payload. 
  • The quantity of propellants transported to LEO to go from here to there (and back) becomes (at least in part) the decisive element in evaluating whether a space mission is possible and economical. 
  • As we previously said, this is reflected in the value of IMLEO, which is mostly comprised of propellants rather than payload. 
  • This image may alter in the future if we can effectively deliver propellants to LEO.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan 

You may also want to read more about Space Missions and Systems here.

Space Campaigns

A campaign is a collection of closely linked space missions that work together to achieve the campaign's overall objectives. 

Each mission in the campaign may be unique in certain instances, and the primary benefit given by past missions to future missions is the information acquired from previous missions, which may affect mission locations and verify instrumentation, flying technologies, or other mission design components.

  • In the case of robotic expeditions to Mars, this is usually the case. 
  • Prior robotic trips to Mars will be required to test new technology on Mars before they can be used by humans. 
  • The campaign, which is made up of a series of human operations, will, nevertheless, develop infrastructure and improve capabilities with each mission. 
  • The MEP, for example, envisions a series of exploratory robotic trips to Mars, each of which gives crucial information on where to go and what to search for in the next mission (s). 

The NASA lunar exploration project of approximately 7–9 years ago was an outline of a campaign, but the campaign was not clearly defined, apart from the fact that it would start with short-duration “sortie” flights and progress to the construction of a lunar “outpost” with unknown location and functions. 

  • In reality, preliminary planning failed to address several key elements of the sortie missions or improve the Lunar Surface Access Module (LSAM), with virtually all of the attention focused on the so-called Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV). 
  • NASA seems to have lost sight of the entire campaign and how the parts fit together throughout this process. 

Although ISRU for generating oxygen for ascent propulsion was a major topic for outposts, the removal of oxygen as an ascension propellant indicates that various organizations working on the lunar exploration program were not only not communicating, but were also working at cross-purposes. 

  • At the highest level, a campaign should begin with a set of objectives to be met. 
  • A collection of hypothetical missions that might form the basis of a campaign would be defined. 
  • Campaigns are collections of missions, although the order in which they are completed may be random. 

Consider the following scenario: 

  • • Each Mission has at least two potential outcomes, each with a probability associated with it. 
  • • If Event A occurs, go to Mission 2A; if Event B occurs, proceed to Mission 2B. 
  • • Each campaign may have a variety of potential results (each with a different series of missions, and differing cost, risk, and performance) 

A "tree-diagram" depicting various models for the campaign as routes across a space consisting of configurations of sequentially ordered missions may be used to illustrate alternative methods for carrying out a campaign. 

  • A lot of researchers have been looking at methods for determining the best campaign (i.e. the best sequence of missions) based on some kind of campaign merit figure. 
  • However, since this is a complicated topic, it is beyond the scope of this debate. 

The features, characteristics, and needs of the various missions that make up a campaign must be understood in order to make a smart campaign decision.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan 

You may also want to read more about Space Missions and Systems here.

Humans On Mars: A Skeptic's Perspective

It's encouraging to learn that the Mars Society is interested about creating law and order in townships on Mars. 

However, there are immediate difficulties in sending the first people to Mars for preliminary exploration, and the costs and dangers are very high. 

There are many issues to consider: 

(1) What are the primary objectives of the Mars mission? 

(2) How does robotic vs human exploration compare in terms of benefits and costs? 

(3) What are the dangers and difficulties associated with sending people to Mars? 

The dominant opinion in both scientific and futuristic circles, as we covered in earlier parts, is that the primary reason to investigate Mars is the hunt for life, which necessitates a search for liquid water (mostly past). 

Futurists and visionaries have imaginations that extend well beyond this early stage, to the point when human communities are created for their "social, inspirational, and resource worth." 

Even if we accept the implausible notion that the hunt for life on Mars is essential to exploration, the issue of comparative costs and potential outcomes based on robotic vs human exploration of Mars remains. 

The benefit-to-cost ratio for robotic exploration seems to be much higher. 

Furthermore, because the search for life is likely to fail, maybe the true benefit in investigating Mars is to learn more about why the three terrestrial planets, Venus, Earth, and Mars, came out to be so different, despite the fact that they were all equipped with comparable resources from the outset. Venus has a dense carbon dioxide atmosphere, while Mars has relatively little. 

  • There are ideas as to why this occurs, however it may be required to explore the planets to learn more about the geological history of how this happened. 
  • In comparison to robotic exploration, sending people to Mars seems to be a highly costly and hazardous endeavor. 
  • In terms of the wider, aspirational perspective stated in DRM-1, the push for a long-term human presence beyond Earth seems to be at least a few hundred years premature. 

Certainly, the existence of a few people on Mars will not alleviate any of the stresses that the Earth is experiencing owing to overcrowding, pollution, or resource depletion. 

Comparative planetology is an admirable aim, but it is unclear if human presence is required to achieve it. 

Without sending people to Mars, aren't there plenty of possibilities for international collaboration on Earth? 

By comparing bigger societal expenditures, the conclusion that the investment needed to transport people to Mars is "small" is reached. 

However, when compared to conventional space expenses, it is enormous. 

On the other hand, the claims that new technologies or new applications of existing technologies will benefit not only humans exploring Mars but will also improve people's lives on Earth may have some merit, and that the boldness and grandeur of Mars exploration "will motivate our youth, drive technical education goals, and excite the people and nations of the world" may have some merit. 

It ultimately comes down to the benefit/cost ratio, which seems to be poor in this case. 

Aside from the why and if it is worthwhile, the actual problem at hand is the technical, financial, and logistical obstacles that a human trip to Mars would face. 

Nonetheless, a human trip to Mars would be a tremendous technical feat and the pinnacle of more than 60 years of rocketry and space exploration.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan 

You may also want to read more about Space Missions and Systems here.

Why Send Humans To Mars?

The Opinions of the Enthusiasts, Science, inspiration, and resources are three of the most common reasons for exploring the Moon or Mars. 

This foundation was laid by Paul Spudis for lunar exploration6, but many of the same ideas have been extended to Mars by fans. 

The NASA Mars Design Reference Mission (DRM-1) elucidated the justification for human exploration of Mars in great detail (Hoffman et al. 1997). 

A workshop on the "whys" of Mars exploration was conducted in August 1992 at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas. 

The workshop participants highlighted six key components of a Mars exploration program's justification, which are described here.

  • Human Evolution—Outside of the Earth-Moon system, Mars is the most accessible planetary body where prolonged human presence is thought to be feasible. 
  • The technological goals of Mars exploration should be to figure out what it would take to maintain a permanent human presence outside of Earth. 
  • Comparative Planetology—One of the scientific goals of Mars exploration should be to learn more about the planet and its past so that we may learn more about Earth. 
  • International Cooperation—At the conclusion of the Cold War, the political climate may be favorable to a coordinated international effort that is both suitable and needed for a long-term program. Technology 
  • Advancement—Human exploration of Mars is now on the verge of becoming a reality. Some of the technology needed to complete this mission is already in place or is on the way. Other technologies will emerge as a result of the mission's requirements. 
  • Novel technology, or new applications of current technologies, will help not just those exploring Mars, but also people on Earth. Mars exploration's objectives are audacious, big, and a stretch of the imagination. 

Such objectives will test the population's collective ability to achieve this accomplishment, will inspire our young, will push technical education goals, and will thrill people and countries across the globe. 

A Mars exploration mission is a low-cost investment when compared to other types of societal expenditures. 

“In the long run, the greatest value of human exploration of Mars may possibly be the philosophical and practical consequences of colonizing another planet,” DRM-1 said.

  •  Human history, overpopulation, resource depletion, the quest for religious or economic freedom, competitive advantage, and other human problems were all discussed in DRM-1. 
  • The idea that Mars might one day be a home for humans is at the heart of most of the public enthusiasm in Mars exploration outside of the realm of basic research. 

A human settlement on Mars, which would have to be self-sufficient in order to be sustainable, would satisfy human desires to push the boundaries of human capability, provide the possibility of saving human civilization from an ecological disaster on Earth (for example, a giant asteroid impact or a nuclear incident), and potentially lead to a new range of human endeavors not possible on Earth. 

DRM-1 went on to say that there are three things to think about: 

  • Demonstrating the ability to be self-sufficient. Demonstrating that humans can thrive and live on Mars. 
  • Demonstrating that the dangers of survival encountered by residents on Mars in their everyday lives are consistent with the advantages they perceive. 
  • Robert Zubrin, the founder and president of the Mars Society, is a leading proponent of Mars exploration. Zubrin (2005) further on why he thinks humanity should go to Mars. 

In fact, when he says we can accomplish it in a decade, his excitement outweighs his common sense. “Of all the planetary destinations presently within reach,” Zubrin said, “Mars offers the most—scientifically, socially, and in terms of what it portends for humanity's future.” 

  • Zubrin repeated a widely held view in the scientific community: that any planet with liquid water flowing on its surface in the presence of sunshine would ultimately spontaneously develop life. 
  • “So if the hypothesis is true that life is a naturally occurring phenomena, emerging from chemical ‘complexification' anywhere there is liquid water, a temperate temperature, adequate minerals, and enough time, then life should have emerged on Mars,” Zubrin concluded. 
  • This was based on his argument that “liquid water flowed on the surface of Mars for a billion years throughout its early history, a period five times as long as it took life to emerge on Earth once liquid water existed.” 

Zubrin considered looking for "fossils of previous life" on the surface of Mars, as well as employing "drilling rigs to access subterranean water where Martian life may still exist." He thinks that the inspiration generated by a Mars mission has enormous societal benefit. 

  • “The most essential reason to travel to Mars is the gateway it offers to the future,” he said. Mars is the only alien body in the inner solar system that has all of the resources necessary to sustain not just life, but also the formation of a technological civilization. 
  • We shall begin humanity's career as a multi-planet species by establishing our initial footing on Mars.” Many Mars enthusiasts back Zubrin (the Mars Society's mission is to "advance the objective of the exploration and colonization of the Red Planet.") 
  • They seem to think that “in 10 years” we will be able to transport people to Mars and establish long-term colonies. 
  • Every year, futurists present comprehensive ideas for long-term colonies on Mars at the International Space Development Conference. 

The Mars Society often refers to colonies on Mars as the next stage in the history of "colonization," and cautions against repeating the errors committed on Earth. 

  • According to the Oregon Chapter of the Mars Society, "there will most likely be a few clusters of tiny villages when the first colonies are put up." They should widen out as time goes by. 
  • The more dispersed the townships are, the more likely they are to establish their own culture.
  • Townships will first be reliant on one another for common resources such as food, water, fuel, and air.
  • People should be encouraged to establish more isolated settlements after a more solid infrastructure has been established on Mars. 
  • The law is an essential factor to consider in every region where colonization or expansion has happened. 
  • On Mars, some kind of law will be required. When we consider the system that was utilized in the old west, we can see that whomever is in charge of enforcing the law may have trouble doing so. 
  • The sheriffs' on Mars must be trustworthy persons who have the support of the majority of the population. 
  • They should not be chosen by the present crop of politically motivated citizens; this would only promote corruption. Instead, some kind of volunteer lottery system should be permitted. 
  • In terms of the legislation itself, it should be enacted to protect everyone's fundamental rights, from speech to privacy. 

While these fanatics are already preoccupied with creating law and order on Mars, this humble writer is just concerned with safely getting there and back. 

Rycroft offered a different point of view (2006). “The overall aim of space exploration for the twenty-first century should be to bring people to Mars, with the primary purpose of having them stay there,” he said. 

The aim was to give humanity with “a second base in the Solar System... since the Earth may no longer be livable at some time in the future.” Rycroft pointed out that this might happen as a result of a catastrophic event on Earth. 

Civilization may self-destruct, or the Earth may be rendered uninhabitable by a massive natural disaster. 

Overpopulation, global terrorism, nuclear war or accident, cyber technology war or accident, biological war or accident, emergence of a super-virus, asteroid collision, geophysical events (e.g., earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, volcanoes, hurricanes), resource depletion (e.g., oil, natural gas reserves), climate change, global warming and sea level rise, stratospheric ozone depletion, stratospheric ozone depletion.

 “The chances are no better than 50–50 that our current civilisation on Earth will survive to the end of the century,” he added, quoting M. Rees. 

The most urgent problems include overpopulation, pollution, global warming, resource depletion, and the global spread of Islamic terrorism, which may lead to a third World War between the West and Islam. 

While Rycroft highlighted the gravity of these dangers, his proposed approach of "colonization of Mars by the end of the twenty-first century" will exacerbate rather than alleviate humanity's difficulties. 

How will we manage to populate the Earth and live in peace if we can't do it on Mars, which has an immensely harsher climate? 

A number of new projects aiming towards human exploration of Mars have emerged in the eight years after the original version of this book was published. has been an outspoken proponent of sending people to Mars. 

Their strategy seems to be to organize gatherings and have prominent individuals give remarks. Mars One will create a permanent human colony on Mars, according to Mars One. 

Starting in 2024, four-person crews will leave every two years. 

In 2018, we will launch our first unmanned mission. Participate in our journey to Mars by joining the Global Mars One Community.

According to a 2014 news report10, "Sending people to Mars by the 2030s is cheap," but "several critical adjustments are required if it is to materialize." 

  • A workshop group of more than 60 people from more than 30 government, industrial, academic, and other institutions discovered that if NASA's budget is restored to pre-sequestration levels, a human trip to Mars lead by NASA is possible. 
  • A human arrival on Mars is still approximately 20 years away, according to a more recent news report11, but NASA's journey to the Red Planet seems to be gradually moving ahead. 
  • NASA's top human exploration official told a Senate panel that major components of the deep-space rocket, capsule, and infrastructure required to reach Mars are on track for a landing in the 2030s. 
  • NASA is developing the technologies required to transport people to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars in the 2030s, according to a NASA website. 
  • NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and colleagues from throughout the agency presented NASA's Human Path to Mars during an Exploration Forum at NASA Headquarters in Washington on April 29, 2014. 

The Mars Society continues to push for human trips to the Red Planet. 

Human arrival on Mars is just a decade or two away, according to dozens, if not hundreds, of websites. Some groups, on the other hand, have determined that all of the above are untrue. 

The National Research Council (NRC) determined that NASA's human spaceflight program had an unsustainable and dangerous approach that will prohibit the United States from landing a person on Mars in the near future. 

The 286-page National Research Council report, the result of an 18-month, $3.2 million congressional investigation, concludes that continuing on the current path with budgets that don't keep up with inflation "invites failure, disillusionment, and the loss of the longstanding international perception that human spaceflight is something the US does best." 

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan 

You may also want to read more about Space Missions and Systems here.

Views Of The Curmudgeons On The Search For Life On Mars

How life started on Earth is one of science's biggest unanswered mysteries. 

The current consensus among scientists is that life forms relatively easily and with a high probability on a planet if you start with a temperate climate, liquid water, carbon dioxide, and possibly ammonia, hydrogen and other basic chemicals, and electrical discharges (lightning) to break up molecules and form free radicals that can react with one another. 

How is it possible for such rubbish to be propagated in the scientific community? 

  • At least part of the explanation seems to be attributable to the fact that “the planet was a dead rock 4.6 billion years ago; a billion years later it was teeming with early forms of life.” 
  • The fact that life originated very early in the Earth's history is one of the pillars of the commonly held belief that life forms readily and with high probability—an argument that I can't find any evidence for. To begin with, we don't know whether life "began" on Earth or was transported from another body to Earth. 

Second, since we don't know how life began, how can we be certain that the relatively early appearance of life on Earth is predictive of anything? 

There is no evidence or logic to indicate that if life originated 3 billion years after the Earth's creation (rather than 1 billion), the chance of life developing would be lower than if life began in 1 billion years. 

Even if this reasoning were true, which it isn't, the difference would be just a factor of three, while the inherent likelihood of life formation must be a very high negative exponential. 

  • If you imagine a million planets orbiting stars in a billion galaxies, all of which have the same basic requirements: temperate climate, liquid water, carbon dioxide, and possibly ammonia, hydrogen and other basic inorganic chemicals, and electrical discharges (lightning), you'll notice that if life emerges on any of them and evolves into thinking beings, the people who live there will be the same as the people on Earth. “I think, therefore I exist,” as Descartes put it. 
  • Assume that the chances of life developing on such a planet are very remote, and that it requires an extraordinarily rare confluence of chemical, electrical, and geological processes to create the required channel for life to emerge from natural molecules. 
  • Assume that out of those 1,000,000 planets, life only developed once on one of them. People that developed on that planet would believe they were prototypical of other worlds and that life exists all throughout the cosmos. Because we are living, we are conscious of life. We have no way of knowing whether life has existed somewhere else. 

Given the complexity of life—even the smallest bacteria needs about 2000 complex organic enzymes to function—the likelihood of life evolving spontaneously from basic inorganic chemicals seems to be very remote. 

  • This chance, according to Hoyle (1983), is very small. Hoyle goes on to say that life began somewhere in the cosmos and was "sown" on Earth by interstellar dust grains. 
  • Many of the ideas in Hoyle's book that support seeding life from alien origins were thoroughly debunked by Korthof (2014). 
  • The majority of these complaints seem to be valid. However, the issue of how life began, whether on Earth or elsewhere, remains unanswered. 

Faced with the problem that the chances of life emerging spontaneously are very low, Hoyle proposed a quasi-religious perspective that the world is under “intelligent control,” with life being generated by higher powers that we cannot comprehend. 

  • Shapiro (1987) presented a hilarious allegory of a seeker of the solution to the beginning of existence who travels to the Himalayas to see a renowned guru. 
  • Every day, the guru presents the seeker with a new far-fetched “scientific” idea, and the seeker remains unsatisfied. 
  • Finally, on the last day, the guru reads the first page of Genesis (“In the beginning,...”), and the seeker decides that this explanation is approximately as good as the “scientific” ones. 
  • Consider the Earth 4 billion years ago, after it had finished its initial creation and cooling process. 

How long did it take for life to show up? 

Is it a day? Is it really a month? Is it really a year? 

What is a millennium? Hundreds of millions of years? 

Did it emerge in a single location or all across the world? 

Why isn't life still developing if it formed that quickly? 

  • If it took a few hundred million years, it was likely due to an extremely unusual series of occurrences. 
  • The issue with all of the theories about how life emerged from inanimate stuff is that none of them can withstand even a cursory examination. 
  • Given 1,000,000 planets in the universe with a climate that might potentially sustain life, it is conceivable that only an extraordinarily unusual and fortunate conflux of circumstances led to the creation of life on one planet (or possibly a few). 
  • We are the one, according to Descartes' reasoning, if life originated on just one planet. 
  • As a result, the hunt for life on Mars seems to be destined to failure—or at the very least, a high chance of failure. 
  • The whole direction of inquiry and study may be shifted depending on how the basic questions are phrased. 

One of the "four big questions" posed by the ESA Cosmic Vision5 is: 

"What are the prerequisites for planetary formation and the development of life?" 

  • This tilts the whole framework toward the widely held belief that, given enough time, a set (or sets) of circumstances (temperature, pressure, atmospheric components, liquid water, energy input, etc.) would deterministically create life from inanimate matter as a matter of chemistry. 
  • This perspective has impacted (and, in my opinion, distorted) the whole Mars Exploration Program into a futile, doomed-to-fail hunt for life on Mars, as well as spawned a slew of fictitious stories about the quest for life. 

We don't even know if life began on Earth or was brought there from somewhere else. As a result, it's unclear if life began on planets. 

  • It's conceivable that the development of life from inanimate stuff is a complex, unlikely, nearly impossible process that necessitates a series of improbable sequential occurrences, such that life only exists once in the universe, and we'll never know where or how. 
  • The widely held notion that life would develop deterministically in many places across the cosmos where there is water and moderate temperatures seems to be unfounded. 
  • Someone appears to declare a major “breakthrough” in understanding how life started from inanimate matter many times a year, and they generally conclude that life forms quickly and with a high likelihood. 
  • Jeremy England, a 31-year-old physicist at MIT, believes he has discovered the fundamental physics driving the genesis and development of life.

What is the purpose of life? 

  • A primordial soup, a flash of lightning, and a massive stroke of luck are all popular theories. 
  • However, if a controversial new hypothesis is true, chance may have a little role. 
  • The genesis and subsequent development of life, according to the physicist who proposed the theory, "should be as unsurprising as pebbles flowing downhill," according to the scientist who proposed the theory. All of these ideas, however, fall short on one crucial aspect. 

Why isn't fresh life sprouting up everywhere around us if life develops readily and deterministically from the "primordial soup"? 

What does it indicate about the inherent likelihood of creating life from the "primordial soup" if it takes millions of years for life to emerge from such a large quantity of it?

Nonetheless, there are still compelling reasons to visit Mars. 

The following are some of them: 

  • However, knowing the circumstances that existed on early Mars will certainly offer significant insights as to how the Mars we see today came to be. 
  • In this regard, Mars may offer crucial information on the nature of the early Earth. 
  • The Noachian is thought to account for up to 40% of the Martian surface, although this era is hardly represented in the Earth's geologic record, since the few exposures that have been found are extensively metamorphosed (i.e., with uncertain preservation of original texture and chemistry). 
  • Because Earth and Mars are Solar System neighbors, they are likely to have shared certain early (pre-3.7 Ga) processes, and research on Mars may help us learn more about our own planet.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan 

You may also want to read more about Space Missions and Systems here.

Mars Robotics - Robotic Exploration of Mars

NASA's Mars Exploration Program (MEP) is managed by JPL. For many years, this program has been conducting a series of robotic missions to investigate Mars. 

  • The success of the Mars Pathfinder, Mars Exploration Rover, and Mars Science Laboratory missions has shown that autonomous rovers can effectively and efficiently explore the surface of Mars and collect scientific data in small regions. 
  • As a consequence, the MEP has created an ambitious long-term strategy for in situ exploration based on a consensus among top Mars scientists. 
  • The hunt for past or current life on Mars is the highest priority objective. 

For instance, a JPL website addresses the question, “Why Explore Mars?” 

  • Mars has the most pleasant environment in the solar system after Earth. 
  • It was once so welcoming that it might have supported primitive, bacteria-like life. =
  • Outflow channels and other geologic structures on Mars' surface offer sufficient evidence that liquid water flowed billions of years ago. 
  • Although liquid water may exist deep under Mars' surface, the temperature is presently too low and the atmosphere is too thin for liquid water to exist at the surface. 

What caused the climate on Mars to change? 

Were the prerequisites for the emergence of life ever exist on Mars? 

Is it possible that microorganisms in the subsurface are still living today? 


These are the kinds of questions that motivate us to go to Mars. 

Mars' environment has clearly cooled significantly.... 

We must initially ask the following questions when we begin to explore the cosmos and seek for planets in other solar systems: 

Is there evidence of life on another planet in our solar system? 

What are the bare minimum requirements for the emergence of life? 

Four topics were prioritized by the Mars Exploration Program 

  1. Look for traces of a previous existence. 
  2. Investigate hydrothermal environments. (The chances of finding evidence of past and current life have considerably increased.) 
  3. Look for the current moment. 
  4. Investigate the development of Mars. 

The hunt for proof of previous life was the main short-term aim. If hydrothermal vents were identified (which they haven't yet), the search would be narrowed down to those areas. 

The hunt for current life would “follow on from previous orbiting or landing missions discovering that current Mars conditions have the capacity to sustain life.” 

Only if the... presently accepted theories for Mars' climatic history are wrong will the subject of Martian evolution be highlighted. 

If future missions show that there is no convincing evidence of wet conditions on ancient Mars involving standing bodies of water, as has been interpreted from orbital remote sensing to date, the program's current focus on the search for surface habitats will be lowered significantly — unless, of course, liquid water is discovered on or near the surface of Mars today. 

With this unexpected finding would arise the conundrum of how the terrestrial planets developed so differently, despite their striking resemblance. 

Liquid water, on the other hand, is unstable at Mars' surface temperatures and pressures. 

As a result, standing pools of liquid water cannot exist on or near Mars' surface. 

Liquid water might theoretically exist far under the surface, where temperatures are greater, and liquid water under pressure could sometimes rush up to the top owing to a subterranean event, where it would rapidly freeze. 


The loss mechanisms and sinks for water and CO2 on Mars would be studied throughout time, as well as comparisons of the parallels and differences between the three terrestrial planets: 

Venus, Earth, and Mars. More than 130 terrestrial and planetary scientists gathered at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to study early Mars. 

The report's primary topic was the hunt for life on Mars. In their 26-page study, the term "life" appears 119 times, or almost five times each page. 

According to the report's introduction, "perhaps the single most compelling reason scientists find this early period of Martian geologic history so compelling is that its dynamic character may have given rise to conditions suitable for the development of life, the creation of habitable environments for that life to colonize, and the subsequent preservation of evidence of those early environments in the geologic record." 

“Did life emerge on early Mars?” was listed as one of the three “top scientific questions linked to early Mars.” 

“The issue of Martian life contains basically three fundamental aspects,” the study continues. 

  • The first was the idea that Mars might have had its own separate genesis of life. 
  • The second was the possibility of life developing on one planet and then being transported to another via impact ejection and gravitational capture (i.e., panspermia). 
  • The third looked at the possibility of life on Mars having survived and developed after its first appearance. The study goes on to say that “how life starts anyplace remains a basic unsolved mystery,” and that “the closeness of Earth and Mars raises uncertainty as to whether Earth and Mars had genuinely separate beginnings of life.” 

Microorganisms may have been transferred between the two worlds as a result of meteoritic collisions, such as those that brought Martian meteorites to Earth. 

In the distant geologic past, impact events were much more common and significant, including at the time when life started on Earth. 

As a result, it's impossible to say if the finding of life on Mars entails the discovery of a genuinely separate genesis of life. 

Because liquid water is thought to be a required (but not sufficient) prerequisite for life to develop from inanimate materials, the Mars scientific community puts a high priority on finding evidence of liquid water's previous effect on the surface (it cannot exist there under present conditions). 

The hunt for evidence of previous circumstances that might have supported life on Mars is still a major focus of the mission. 

The key issue for Mars exploration, according to the MEP, is: Is there life on Mars? 

Among the many discoveries we've made about Mars, one stands out above the rest: 

the possibility of liquid water on Mars, either in the distant past or now in the subsurface. 

Water is essential because life exists nearly everywhere on Earth where there is water. 

If Mars previously had liquid water, and if it still does now, it's intriguing to speculate about whether microscopic life might have evolved on its surface. 

Is there any proof of life on the earth in the past? 

Is it possible that any of these small live organisms survive today? 

Consider how thrilling it would be to say, "Yes!" 

  • The first science goal is to find out whether life has ever existed on Mars. 
  • NASA will need to undertake multiple missions over the next several decades to determine if life ever existed on Mars. 
  • Similarly, the hunt for life lies at the heart of NASA's exploration of other planets in the solar system and beyond. 
  • A hunt for life on Titan, Saturn's moon, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) using radio telescopes are among them. 

The focus on life in the NASA community has swayed a number of otherwise competent and even prominent scientists to develop programs, papers, and reports to analyze, hypothesize, and imagine the possibility of liquid water and life on other planetary bodies, with a particular focus on Mars—and the press has exaggerated these occasional musings. 

Mars scientists are under a lot of pressure to discover implications for water and life in their research. 

An interesting article reports on an interview with Steve Squyres, the project scientist for the Mars Exploration Rovers mission. 

The following are two extracts from the article: 

According to reports, Squyers believes the rovers would provide answers to two questions: 

"Are we alone in the universe?" and "How did life come to be?" 

Most significantly, they've discovered signs of water on Mars. There is life where there is water. It's hard to believe Squyres really stated this. 

How can the media say such ludicrous things? 

What proof is there that a planet with liquid water had life at some point? 

Isn't it possible to tell the difference between essential and sufficient? 

Although water is essential for life, is it sufficient? 

There is no proof that it is. And who in their right mind thinks the MER rovers will provide a solution to the issue of how life forms? 

This isn't science at all. It's the worst kind of pseudoscience. 

In regular news releases ascribed to renowned and competent space experts, the Internet is full with crazy erroneous claims. 

P.S ~ When did science go from proving hypotheses with measurements, cautious understated conclusions, and carefully verifying ideas before going public—to wild untested statements, baseless claims, and repeated press releases reporting nonsense?

You may also want to read more about Space Missions and Systems here.

Mars Exploration And The Search For Life

The Apollo human trips to the Moon must be considered one of mankind's greatest technical accomplishments, especially given the rudimentary electronics available at the time. 

  • That was undoubtedly the pinnacle of NASA's accomplishments. 
  • Since then, NASA has been debating what should happen next in terms of people in space.
  • There seems to have been a strong desire to get humans into space, which led to the creation of the Space Shuttle. 

While it is true that any human mission in space requires access, the problems with the Shuttle were that, 

(i) the development and operation of the Shuttle required so much funding that there wasn't much left over to support what humans would do once they did get access to space, and 

(ii) the Shuttle's reliability deteriorated over time, until the main goal seemed to be merely to land sat. 

Following the Shuttle, NASA began on the Space Station, which, like the Shuttle, proved to be a money drain while delivering even less value. 

Michael Griffin was the NASA Administrator at the time, and his perspective aligned with Robert Zubrin's: 

  • The NASA budget allocates funding to its constituencies for technology development in the belief that if enough technical work is done, the building blocks for missions will be available (Zubrin 2014). 
  • As Zubrin put it, "technology and hardware components are created in accordance with the desires of different technical groups" under this manner. 

These initiatives are therefore justified by the premise that they may be helpful in the future when large-scale flying programs are restarted. 

  • In theory, if executed intelligently and successfully, this method has considerable value. 
  • However, we know from experience that establishing and maintaining a link between technology development and mission requirements is difficult. 

Furthermore, the requirement to connect technology to particular objectives may suffocate innovation and hinder development on higher-paying technologies. 

  • Griffin, unlike his predecessors, was committed to what Zubrin referred to as the Apollo Mode: first, a destination for human space travel is selected. 
  • After that, a strategy for achieving the goal is devised. Following that, technologies and designs are created to put the strategy into action. 
  • The mission is then flown once these designs have been constructed. 

Griffin's strategy was to choose a particular destination and devote a significant portion of NASA's budget to developing technologies to get there. 

  • By rapidly phasing out the Shuttle and the Space Station and diverting NASA Center technology money to shorter-term initiatives directly meeting the requirements of his destination-driven mission idea, his goal was to establish a pool of resources inside NASA for executing his vision. Griffin made the decision to return to the Moon. 
  • He most likely postponed a trip to Mars because the finances were just not available. 

An interview with Griffin may provide some insight into Griffin's thoughts (2010). 

  • He said in the interview that the Obama administration's strategy "does not bring us out beyond low Earth orbit in a timely and efficient manner." 
  • Transporting people to the Moon, he said, was an essential step toward ultimately sending humans to Mars. 
  • He also said that "the Moon is fascinating in and of itself." “I believe the experience of learning how to live on another planet just three days from home is extremely valuable...” he said. 
  • Griffin's objective, however, was not able to be realized due to a lack of funding in the NASA budget. 
  • Griffin's Constellation project was hampered by continued funding for the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. 

Furthermore, after further consideration, the benefit of returning to the Moon seemed to be extremely speculative. 

President Barack Obama canceled the Constellation program in 2010, and NASA seems to have returned to a constituency-driven model since then. 


While NASA has made some crazy promises about sending people to Mars in the 2030s, beautiful PowerPoint slides do not seem to be enabling for this trip. 

  • How, where, and when life emerged from inorganic materials is an unanswered question. 
  • One fundamental piece of information we have is that life lived on Earth in a rudimentary form over 3 billion years ago (BYA). 
  • This was discovered in dated strata using fossil remnants of early forms of life. 

What was the method through which lifeless matter gave birth to life in its earliest stages? 

Is there life beyond the solar system or somewhere in the solar system? 

All of these issues are subordinate to the main question: 

  • Is the emergence of life from inanimate matter a probable (or perhaps predictable) process given enough time, a warm environment, liquid water, and a scattering of chemical elements from the lower periodic table? 
  • Some scientists have used logic and creativity to concoct a broad range of possible scenarios for the emergence of life, many of which are based on little evidence. 

To this writer, they seem to be extremely questionable. 

  • Science despises the lack of solutions to critical problems, just as nature despises a vacuum. 
  • As a consequence, scientists have come up with a variety of "explanations" for how life started.
  • There are many articles on livable worlds. Surely, there must be a large number in the different galaxies. But the issue isn't whether there are livable planets; there are. 

What is the likelihood that life would emerge spontaneously on such a planet? 

  • The commonly held idea seems to be that any planetary body with enough heat, water, and a few components would spontaneously develop life. 
  • Given this viewpoint, Mars seems like an obvious location to look for alien life. 

As a result, NASA's exploration missions are primarily focused on looking for life on Mars. 

But how likely is it that life will develop on such a planet?

Is NASA looking for an ephemeral fantasy with a very little chance of occurring?

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

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