|CGI rendering of the Mars Rover|
Here's a snippet from the announcement of the news conference:
“WASHINGTON -- NASA will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 2, to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe.”
|Renowned theoretical physicist, Michio Kaku|
His thoughts are that it could be anything from:
a) The discovery of many earth-like planets in space (As opposed to the larger Jupiter-like planets they tend to be discovering).
b) Analysis of the chemicals on some of our solar system's moons that could provide the building blocks to life.
c) Proof of the existence of some extraterrestrial microbial life.
Personally, I feel we can discount options a) and b). There have been past announcements about moons in our solar system that have chemicals that could allow the existence of life. We've also had plenty of announcements about extra-solar planets. Not only have we had them before, but given the differing scientific fields that such discoveries would influence and impact, it seems highly doubtful they would call a news conference specifically related to astrobiology.
Option c) seems the most likely on his list.
Obviously at this point the news conference could be about the discovery of the tiniest bit of extraterrestrial microbial life, right through to walking on stage with a live alien making first contact. However, being sensible, what are the most likely contenders?
In my opinion, we can break them down to a few major ideas.
Small Scale Contenders:
|The Mars Rover finding evidence for|
|Cueva de los Cristales|
(Cave of Crystals)
|The Hayabusa re-entry into the|
Mid Scale Contenders:
|Saturn's moon Enceladus, taken|
from the Cassini probe
Large Scale Contenders:
|The famous 'Face on Mars' after|
closer photography from orbit
2 – A signal of intelligent origin. I find this unlikely, because although it would be of importance to astrobiologists, it would not be they alone whom it would impact, as the news conference suggests.
It's difficult to speculate, as it depends entirely upon the level and scale of their discovery. It can't be absurdly large, or we would be hearing some kind of announcement from the White House (Unless of course this has been kept under wraps sufficiently to get the news people in-place without giving the game away too much. The news conference is happening at NASA's Washington offices, after all).
If it turns out to be genuine proof of extraterrestrial life, even on the smallest scale, it will completely alter our perception of our place in the universe. However, this will be a gradual change, as it won't impact or interest the average Joe on the street as much as the latest sports scores.
If it turns out to be proof of not only extraterrestrial life, but intelligent life, then it could cause all manner of situations, from riots in highly religious and extreme countries who decry the evidence and its implications, right through to causing our largest world governments to band together to discover more about our alien companions in the universe, potentially ushering in a new era of planetary co-operation and purpose.
I could be completely wrong (and I probably am), but it's fun to wonder. The only way we're really going to find out, is tonight, by watching the NASA news conference.
We should all make the effort if we can. It may not be anything spectacular, in fact it's probably disappointingly mundane, but it could also be something that completely changes our world and our existence forever. Wouldn't you want to be one of the first to know?
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