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Dr. Carl Sagan

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Vangelis - Alpha [05 Oct 2008|07:09pm]


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[05 Oct 2008|07:00pm]



"Since, in the long run, every planetary civilizationwill be endangered by impacts from space, every surviving civilization is obliged to become spacefaring--not because of exploratory or romantic zeal, but for the most practical reason imaginable: staying alive... If our long-term survival is at stake, we have a basic responsibility to our species to venture to other worlds."
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

"Idon't think the human race will survive the next thousand years, unless we spread into space. There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet. But I'm an optimist. We will reach out to the stars."
Stephen Hawking, interview with Daily Telegraph, 2001

"Let me end with an explanation of why I believe the move into space to be a human imperative. It seems to me obvious in too many ways to need listing that we cannot much longer depend upon our planet's relatively fragile ecosystem to handle the realities of the human tomorrow. Unless we turn human growth and energy toward the challenges and promises of space, our only other choice may be the awful risk, currently demonstrable, of stumbling into a cycle of fratricide and regression which could end all chances of our evolving further or of even surviving."
Gene Roddenberry, Planetary Report Vol. 1, 1981

"The Earth is just too small and fragile a basket for the human race to keep all its eggs in."
Robert Heinlein, speech
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[05 Oct 2008|06:59pm]

Study: Martian soil may contain life



LONDON, England (Reuters) -- The soil on Mars may containmicrobial life, according to a new interpretation of data first collected more than 30 years ago.

The search for life on Mars appeared to hit a dead end in 1976 when Viking landers touched down on the red planet and failed to detect biological activity.

But Joop Houtkooper of the University of Giessen, Germany, said on Friday the spacecraft may in fact have found signs of a weird life form based on hydrogen peroxide on the subfreezing, arid Martian surface.

His analysis of one of the experiments carried out by the Viking spacecraft suggests that 0.1percent of the Martian soil could be of biological origin.

That is roughly comparable to biomass levels found in some Antarctic permafrost, home to a range of hardy bacteria and lichen.



"It is interesting because one part per thousand is not a small amount," Houtkooper said in a telephone interview.

"We will have to find confirmatory evidence and see what kind of microbes these are and whether they are related to terrestrial microbes. It is a possibility that life has been transported from Earth to Mars or vice versa a long time ago."

Speculation about suchinter planetary seeding was fueled a decade ago when researchers said an ancient meteorite found in Antarctica contained evidence of fossil life on Mars. Doubt has since been cast on that finding.



Houtkooper is presenting his research to the European Planetary Science Congress in Potsdam, Germany.

While most scientists think our next-door neighbor in the solar systemis lifeless, the discovery of microbes on Earth that can exist in environments previously thought too hostile has fueled debate over extraterrestrial life.

Houtkooper believes Mars could be home to just such "extremophiles" -- in this case, microbes whose cells are filled with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water, providing them with natural anti-freeze.

They would be quite capable of surviving a harsh Martian climate where temperatures rarely rise above freezing and can fall to minus 150 degrees Celsius.

Houtkooper believes their presence would account for unexplained rises in oxygen and carbon dioxide when NASA's Viking landers incubated Martian soil.He bases his calculation of the biomass of Martian soil on theassumption that these gases were produced during the breakdown of organic material.

Scientists hope to gather further evidence onwhether or not Mars ever supported life when NASA's next-generation robotic spacecraft, the Phoenix Mars Lander, reaches the planet in May2008 and probes the soil near its northern pole



http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/space/08/23/mars.soil.life.reut/index.html?iref=mpstoryview
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