The Martian Boondoggles

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by Gary North Tea Party Economist

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There was a recent mini-flap over life on Mars. Some CalTech scientist said that something big is about to be announced about life on Mars. But NASA says it’s not true. You can read about this here.

Here is the accompanying explanation.

The Mars Science Laboratory Project and its Curiosity rover are less than four months into a two-year prime mission to investigate whether conditions in Mars’ Gale Crater may have been favorable for microbial life.

Curiosity is exceeding all expectations for a new mission with all of the instruments and measurement systems performing well, NASA says.

Microbial life is the key. It has been the key to the tens of billions spent on this boondoggle for over 15 years. There are no reports about findings that do not discuss water or the absence of water or the possibility of water. Why? Because water is basic for life.

So, we read: "The mission already has found an ancient riverbed on the Red Planet, and there is every expectation for remarkable discoveries still to come." Excuse me? A riverbed? As in "river"? As in "water"? Well, no. There is no sign of water. But, hey, let’s call it a riverbed anyway. What’s the harm?

Here is the harm. Christians and Jews who think that the Bible is true say that man is the ethical and judicial center of the creation. But if there is life anywhere in the universe, then man may not be the center. So, if there was ever life on Mars, the Bible’s creation story is compromised. This conclusion is compromised: "Man is the ethical center, because he alone is the image of God."

The bureaucrats at NASA who spend our money on endless Martian boondoggles with no economic payoff have a theological agenda. They are taxing millions of people who believe the Bible’s story in order to disprove this story.

This is from the NASA/JPL site.

Among our discoveries about Mars, one stands out above all others: the possible presence of liquid water on Mars, either in its ancient past or preserved in the subsurface today. Water is key because almost everywhere we find water on Earth, we find life. If Mars once had liquid water, or still does today, it’s compelling to ask whether any microscopic life forms could have developed on its surface. Is there any evidence of life in the planet’s past? If so, could any of these tiny living creatures still exist today? Imagine how exciting it would be to answer, "Yes!!"

This is only the beginning.

Why Explore Mars?

After Earth, Mars is the planet with the most hospitable climate in the solar system. So hospitable that it may once have harbored primitive, bacteria-like life. Outflow channels and other geologic features provide ample evidence that billions of years ago liquid water flowed on the surface of Mars. Although liquid water may still exist deep below the surface of Mars, currently the temperature is too low and the atmosphere too thin for liquid water to exist at the surface.

What caused the change in Mars’ climate? Were the conditions necessary for life to originate ever present on Mars? Could there be bacteria in the subsurface alive today? These are the questions that lead us to explore Mars. The climate of Mars has obviously cooled dramatically. By studying the reasons for climate change on Mars, which lacks the complications of oceans, a biosphere, and industrial contaminants, we may begin to understand the forces driving climate change on Earth. As we begin to explore the universe and search for planets in other solar systems, we must first ask the question ‘Did life occur on another planet in our own solar system?’ and ‘What are the minimal conditions necessary for the formation of life?’

What Are We Looking For?

The planet Mars landed in the middle of immense public attention on July 4, 1997, when Mars Pathfinder touched down on a windswept, rock-laden ancient flood plain. Two months later, Mars Global Surveyor went into orbit, sending back pictures of towering volcanoes and gaping chasms at resolutions never before seen.

In December 1998 and January 1999, another orbiter and lander were launched to Mars. And every 26 months over the next decade, when the alignment of Earth and Mars are suitable for launches, still more robotic spacecraft will join them at the red planet.

These spacecraft carry varied payloads, ranging from cameras and other sensors to rovers and robotic arms. Some of them have their roots in different NASA programs of science or technology development. But they all have the goal of understanding Mars better, primarily by delving into its geology, climate and history.

With the announcement in 1996 by a team of scientists that a meteorite believed to have come from Mars contained what might be the residue of ancient microbes, public interest became regalvanized by the possibility of past or present life there. The key to understanding whether life could have evolved on Mars, many scientists believe, is understanding the history of water on the planet.

NASA’s Martian boondoggles are good examples of what happens when the state extracts money from taxpayers in order to conduct research. The research is not neutral.

CONCLUSION

The federal government is not neutral. It uses money extracted from some people by threat of violence in order to undermine their worldview. This is the moral equivalent of forcing enemies of the state to dig their own graves before executing them . . . and then kidnapping their children (tax-funded schools).

It is time to stop funding NASA.

Gary North [send him mail] is the author of Mises on Money. Visit http://www.garynorth.com. He is also the author of a free 31-volume series, An Economic Commentary on the Bible.

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