WHISPERS FROM A DEAD PLANET: Planetary Revelations

A Modern Planetary Explorer

Nope, this is not a mockery of our strong desire to explore the planet Mars. As we all know, we are already doing that. We just want to do it more intensely and more personally. This is good! What we mean to present here is the how, when and where we do it. We also believe that our Mars, is not unique, but is representative of many planets in many other solar systems across this galaxy and beyond; thus our use of the Dead Planet label.

Dead Planet in this presentation refers to Earth-like planets that most probably supported some level of life before a variety of cataclysmic events halted the evolutionary process and essentially sterilized the planet into mysterious dormancy. Our closest candidate for this research is Mars. We need to know the details of why and how this happened. We need to know this for our own sake, and also to understand what we term here as cosmic ecology.

We also acknowledge the serious and dedicated scientists who may be appalled at our generalized approach to scientific exploration. We are not ignoring you or your efforts or discoveries. In fact we hope we stimulate the non-scientists to appreciate the challenges and importance of your research efforts. Please know how utterly lost we all would be without your enduring quests.

Exo-paleobiology: Now here’s a mix. Exo, meaning outside our solar system, paleo as in prehistoric and biology as in the study (ology) of all life (bio). So, stirring them together we get the scientific study of earliest life on planets outside our solar system. It is our opinion that the eventual work we will undertake on Mars will be the training and proving ground for future exo-paleobiological research. In the meantime, the critical paleobiological investigations going on here on this planet are equally vital as we continue to seek a full understanding of how life began here, and most likely on other planets (and moons) in this and other solar systems.

Astrobiology: This is another division of the broad science of biology and it goes hand in hand with our coined “exo-paleobiology”, and with the paleobiological research conducted here on Earth.  Here is an example of our own NASA’s research in astrobiology. Additionally, in her engaging book, “Is There Life Out There?”, astrophysicist Dr. Sara Seager prophisizes:

“Someday, sooner or later, we will know of bright stars that host living planets very much like Earth. We will be able to stand beneath a dark sky and point out to our friends or family, ‘That star has a planet like Earth'”

All of the above are examples of our ongoing research here in our own solar system and especially on our Moon and on Mars that will move us forward in our knowledge about life in the universe. It is time to consider some messages from that research, but before we go there; a poetic interlude.

The Poetry of Science: Yeah, we know some of this may tend to put you to sleep, but to help you understand both the power and the deep commitment of scientists and their scientific search for life beyond Earth, take a break and view this.

Whispers: Now our Moon is not by official definition a planet, but it is a planetary body that many consider to be part of a double planet grouping of our Earth and our Moon. This is because our Moon is 1.5 times the size of the now defined minor planet Pluto. Thus, the research we have done and will be doing on our Moon is a vital prelude to what we will also do on Mars, and eventually on other members of our solar system. We are already getting important messages from our research on both the Moon and Mars (there have been, to date, a total of 39 missions to Mars and a total of 26 missions to the Moon). We will soon be getting more that includes more detailed and vital information. Whispers will increase in both volume and content rising to the level of shouts as we make new discoveries on both the Moon and Mars.

Perhaps, next to proof of life, the loudest whisper hoped for from both the Moon and Mars is clear evidence of the presence of water. Water is the fundamental medium for both the emergence and support of life in some form. Recent whispers from the LCROSS/LRO team have clearly reported water on our Moon. Ongoing and intense visual and geological whispers from both Martian rovers, Spirit and Odyssey, give strong hints that there may be water on Mars. What is needed by the scientists now are shouts of proof of water on Mars and thus the hope that there may also be life there. If not life, then hopefully Mars will yield evidence of past life that, as we stated above, is vital to our understanding of life in the universe.

With abiding Curiosity: we will be exploring Mars, more deeply as well as atmospherically. The next Mars planetary rover will be Curiosity that is planned for a 2011 launch. Another very important assessment that will be performed by Curiosity is the detection of cosmic radiation that assaults Mars. This is important from the standpoint of future human missions to the planet where special shielding may be required. Above all else, Curiosity is expected to expand on the presence of conditions that support life or may have supported life on Mars in the past. The results of all information that will come from Curiosity along with all the data we have already gathered will clearly determine what our next exploratory step will be on that planet. It could be a robonaut.

Lunar Robonaut: Very shortly, now, a robonaut will be launched into

The Soon To Be Newest Planetary Explorer

low Earth orbit (LEO) and join the crew of the International Space Station (ISS). Move over HAL, real science in coming. Known as Robonaut2 this humanoid style robot will be assisting the ISS team in their research duties. This is the beginning of an entirely new approach to space exploration and will enable us to venture in to regions that may be best investigated robotically before sending in humans.

NASA has recently announced its intention to send a robonaut to the Moon as the next step in our exploration of that planetary body. There are little details as yet, but it is an exciting eventuality that holds promise of taking the next giant step of humankind into space. This mission may also be a preparatory mission leading to the placing of robonauts on Mars.

How Dead is Dead? No, this is neither a physiological nor theological question. It concerns itself with the various conditions in which life, in some form, may exist or have existed on a Earth-like planet. That planet could be Mars, or it could and most likely will be Earth-like planets in distant solar systems in our galaxy and beyond. The question is also intended to consider the potential for a so-called dead planet to resurrect itself or be resurrected through what we define as terraforming. Terraforming is a human endeavor, and we are essentially interested in conditions where a presumed dead planet is bombarded, again, by cometary and/or asteroid bodies. This could inject those ingredients that can lead to the generation of life or actually in this case the regeneration of life. Could this be happening now somewhere in the universe?  We think so. That entire idea is so very exciting. Life never gives up. If you have doubts, go back and review our little excerpt from the poetry of science.

In closing, we emphasize, as we have before, that our most important and ongoing preparation for our exploration of our solar system and beyond is our responsibility to protect and sustain life on planet Earth. Talks and theories about abandoning Earth for new galactic settlements is interesting, but also a potential weakening of our resolve to preserve our home base. For now and centuries into the future, sweet planet Earth is our vital resource that enables our exploratory vigor. Yes, explore we must, but in doing so we must never forsake our beginnings. Long Live Earth!


Image of Mars exploration rover. Courtesy of NASA and the NOVA special, “Mars, Dead or Alive?” http://on.today.com/dlRBEo

Glorious image of the full Earth, courtesy of NASA.

Explore posts in the same categories: Astrobiology, cosmic ecology, Deep Space Explorations, Humankind and Exploration, Paleobiology, Scientific Research

7 Comments on “WHISPERS FROM A DEAD PLANET: Planetary Revelations”

  1. “Chemists at UC San Diego have uncovered a new chemical reaction on tiny particulates in the atmosphere that could allow scientists to gain a glimpse from ancient rocks of what the atmospheres of the Earth and Mars were like hundreds of millions years ago.”

    Link>> http://bit.ly/ciroEQ

  2. Martian rocks could reveal history of life on the planet. NASA aiming to bring some rocks back to Earth. Link>>http://bit.ly/cx39gv

  3. Here is more details on NASA’s Lunar Robotics mission plans and the robonaut. Link>>http://bit.ly/bX9iRW

  4. Here is more details about Mars rover, Curiosity, and its monitoring of cosmic radiation. Link>> http://bit.ly/bpsxcm

  5. XiNeutrino Says:

    Here is and Astrobiology report on finding life on Mars. LINK>> http://www.astrobio.net/exclusive/3674/a-strategy-to-search-for-life-on-mars

  6. bet365 Says:

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    • XiNeutrino Says:

      Thank you for your comment. I use the standard Sapphire theme, but add a variety of different header images on a regular basis.

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