Friday, February 03, 2006

Martian Threat

I watched The Astronaut's Wife last night - a bit of an extreme premise: alien bodysnatching via a sound transmission - but it got me thinking.

1) Are you for or against the return to earth of soil samples from Mars?

2) Do you perceive a risk of contaminating Earth with new viruses/bacteria/prions/unknown types of microorganisms?
(cf. the interspecies leap of bird flu to humans...)

3) How do fresh samples compare to what might have been introduced over millennia by the thousands of meteors that shower the earth each year?

Microfossils found in Martian meteorites

What's more, how are satellites not completely fried when they are bombarded by the radiation from solar storms, some of which are the size of our planet and larger? This is often what causes failures in the power grid, knocking out communications and the like. The event can hit earth up to an hour after the solar weather forecasters detect it on the sun. However, I have no idea how long it takes to travel 93 million miles.


In the 90s, I bought a copy of Time (or Life?) magazine* which predicted that by now, there would be a research base on Mars** and we would be well on the way to seeding a new Martian atmosphere complete with weather systems, preparing the planet for possible future colonisation as Earth becomes more overcrowded and environmentally infirm. Instead, our focus is on sending big-headed millionaires on space joyrides. And granted, who knows what long term effects such interference will have on our solar system? Man once more playing God to the largest scale yet?

* I still own it, a good collector's piece perhaps?

**By establishing these bases, I think Earth would be spared a major risk of contamination.

P.S. I am a Porsche 911: on my Arty Blog


M. said...

Nope, no concerns. I've seen people who try to analyze such samples in hazmat suits; they're smart enough to know to contain these types of things until they have more information. As for satellites and the ilk - that's why space exploration is so expensive - they're spending much money on technology that has been tested and improved over time. Technology does wonders.


Olivia said...

Well M, I guess they'd have to keep the samples in high security labs, because remember the vials of....polio?...some disease that had been eradicated...that went missing from a Russian lab a few years ago?
And yes, wasn't it a solar event that sent Hubble off the grid for a few weeks when it was quite new, they had to send a repair mission via Mir, I think.

Rox said...

I am a Ferrari 360 Modena!Apparently I've got it all. Power, passion, precision, and style. It seems that I am sensuous, exotic, and temperamental. Sure, they say, I am expensive and high-maintenance, but I'm worth it.
As for new inventions, over all I am all for it. There are always worries about new stuff but if we let that guide our actions we'd probably not even have the wheel. On the other hand worries and caution need to increase with the awareness of the abuse the human race has been- and still is- inflicting on this poor planet of ours.

Jia Li said...

hmmm, Life on Mars

Steliano Ponticos said...

Olive the old magazine predicting mars colonization is so funny...

satellites are not fried because solar storms are magnetic storms they can heat things up but not that much...

basically they cut communications...if you have satellite tv there are days where the image is really bad and often its a solar storm

wouldn't suck if we caught a martian virus..the last thing we needed

Olivia said...

Rox - not many of the people who took the test turned out to be a Ferrari. Special you!

Steli - you read "fried" too literally. It's what they usually say when electromagnetic influences completely destroy the electronics.

Yes - satellite tv, all sorts of communications and even the power grids go out causing blackouts. They think that's what caused the outage in Quebec and NYC some years ago.

Steliano Ponticos said...

ooh..i'm reassured

M. said...

Hm, I can see stupid people wanting to steal virus to use for terrorism, but I don't think they'd care about some stardust! I think it's 1. beyond certain what they'd do and 2. out of most people's radars.