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CI: JPL: What to Expect And The Aftermath

From: Mac Tonnies <macbot.nul>
Date: Tue, 2 Mar 2004 15:52:47 -0800 (PST)
Fwd Date: Wed, 03 Mar 2004 08:58:26 -0500
Subject: CI: JPL: What to Expect And The Aftermath


Cydonian Imperative
3-2-04

JPL: What To Expect
by Mac Tonnies

[I've posted my predictions for JPL's Mars press conference -
 and a link to the conference's conclusions - on the Cydonian
Imperative site (page 47), where they probably belonged
originally. I think my speculations regarding JPL's perrennial
hesitancy were shown to be well-founded. But you be the judge. -
-Mac]

See: http://www.mactonnies.com/cydonia.html (page 47)


From my weblog, Posthuman Blues:

I've received a lot of email about JPL's big Mars press
conference. People are getting excited. In Space.com's words,
"something wonderful" will likely be revealed. Many expect JPL
to come clean regarding some of the curiously fossil-like
formations seen under the Opportunity rover's microscope. Others
expect - at the least - confirmation of liquid water.

I'm skeptical. Public interest in the Mars rovers has been
steadily waning since Spirit landed in early January. JPL direly
needs one of its patented staged "news" conferences to ensure
that the rovers aren't totally forgotten. As I've written in
Meta Research Bulletin and elsewhere, acknowledging a life-
friendly Martian environment is academic suicide for JPL
geologists, whose continued research hinges on Mars being barren
and lifeless.

So I expect the conference to offer the same speculations JPL
has been tirelessly masticating since the Viking missions.
Specifically, the possibility of water in Mars' remote
geological past. Or maybe - if we're lucky - the possibility of
water in Mars' relatively recent past. Of course, "recent" will
mean something like ten million years ago, but we'll still be
expected to gape in amazement at the sheer wonder of it all.

Reality, however, appears to defy JPL's arid rhetoric. Strong
evidence suggests liquid water on Mars right now. Will JPL dare
admit it? Consider what's at stake. Conceding that Mars has the
chemistry necessary for life is tantamount to an open invitation
for microbiologists to join JPL's zealously guarded ranks. For
scientists supposedly enamored of "searching for life" on the
Red Planet, the JPL team has always been careful to exclude the
life sciences from its post-Viking Mars ventures.

Neither of the MER rovers has any life-detection instrumentation
whatsoever. Plans for future probes also carefully exclude
instruments with the potential to tell us anything conclusive
regarding the prospect of life. For far too long, Mars science
has been the stuff of lofty peer-reviewed journals and endless
debate. In this light, conclusive findings are the last thing
JPL wants; best to keep Mars exploration enigmatic and sketchy
so the academic press can continue to spew forth its never-
 ending post-hoc scenarios. After all, there's grant money on
the line, careers to maintain. And so biologists - the very
people equipped to lead a "search for life" on another world -
 are kept at the gates like so many annoying trespassers, forced
to grapple with JPL's predigested geological musings.

There's an apt saying that sums up JPL's myopia: "When the only
tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like nails." So it
is with Mars. When all you have is a rock abrasion tool and a
proton spectrometer, everything looks like... rocks.

-end-

=====
Mac Tonnies (macbot.nul)

Explore MTVI @ http://www.mactonnies.com

Posthuman Blues: http://posthumanblues.blogspot.com (daily blog)

"After the Martian Apocalypse": in bookstores July, 2004
http://www.mactonnies.com/atma.html




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