NASA found life on Mars! And Killed it! Not!

There have been some reports lately on a claim that it’s possible NASA‘s space probes that landed on Mars 30 years ago missed signs of bacterial life.

The theory raised is that it is possible life developed on Mars in manners different from what is usual on Earth, and that it is possible that, for some of these hypothetical types of life, the attempts by the probes to locate micro-organisms may have missed those organisms and maybe killed them.

Not exactly a big claim. Nobody actually knows, or has any factual basis to suspect, that there were micro-organisms there. If there were some, of a type the probes weren’t set to find, nobody can say if they were of a type that the experiments would also kill. Not that killing a few microbes is such a big deal, but it does make for a more interestingly sounding story.

Basically, a lot of non-news, unless you’re planning the devices for the next attempt to locate life on a different planet, and want to take more options into account.

But accidentally killing the same micro-organisms you try to find, that makes a decent headline, no? So all the various reports on this that I read (Plenty of stories, but all pretty much based on the same AP report, so they’re unsurprisingly very similar) start with claims like this:

Two NASA space probes that visited Mars 30 years ago may have stumbled upon alien microbes on the Red Planet and inadvertently killed them, a scientist theorizes in a paper released Sunday.

Which is slightly sensational and contains a lot of hyperbole, given that we don’t know any of this, but isn’t really that out of line for modern media reports.

Until, that is, the headlines get to some clueless reporter who is unprofessional enough to take the hype at face value, and out of context.

So on the radio we had this young women, who sounded genuinely shocked and outraged as she reported the latest news: “NASA found life on Mars! And killed it!“.

Really. That is what she said.

Cue the mental images of NASA‘s probe finding several prospering cities full of happy Martians, and nuking them all into oblivion. And then of course taking pictures of the empty wasteland, and sending back reports that there is (now) no life on Mars. And they’ve kept us all in the dark for 30 years, hiding their nefarious xenocide.

She didn’t say that, of course, but it was the obvious thing to understand from her tone about the shocking discovery.

Thankfully the next thing they aired was an interview with some scientist who was asked to comment about NASA‘s wholesale slaughter of the Martians. He actually did know what this all was about, and explained it.

So sorry, folks. NASA did not find life on Mars, and did not kill it. Or, in any case, they still keep a very successful cover-up if they did.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.