The Search for More Pork on Mars Continues

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There isn’t any life on Mars. There is no evidence that there ever was life on Mars. But there is surely pork on Mars. NASA wants to continue to slice off plenty of it.

NASA today is eligible for sequestration, preferably 100% sequestration. NASA does nothing worth financing by the private sector. It never has. But now there are threats of sequestration. NASA is running scared.

So, what’s a bureaucracy to do? Recycle that old favorite, life on Mars.

To keep the search going, the media run stories once a month on “we’ve almost found it.” The basic story never changes; only the names of obscure scientists change. Because nothing is ever proven, NASA has to keep adding new names of “almost, but not quite yet” experts. I mean, it would look silly if the same old scientists kept saying “almost, but not yet.”

The latest report is in the Sydney Morning Herald. You will recognize its outline. The outline never changes. It begins with a question – a question that has produced no answer for a century. “Was there once life on the Red Planet?”

A definitive answer still eludes us, yet every sample from NASA’s Curiosity rover takes scientists a step closer to deciding whether Mars – today freezing cold, bone dry and bombarded by radiation – might once have been habitable.

Translation: The pork search is open-ended. It will continue until NASA is sequestered once and for all. The search will go on, no matter what. This is government-funded science. No search ever ends until there is a discovery that confirms the thesis. At that point, the budget doubles, in order to pursue the discovery’s fabulous implications. This is inter-generational pork.

Using its sophisticated on-board laboratory, the rover’s latest discovery is of clay minerals – including sulphur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon. They were found in powder drilled recently from a sedimentary rock near a former streambed.

The $2 billion machine dug a 2.5-inch hole. That’s not quite a billion dollars per inch. It found nothing significant. It will therefore continue to dig holes until it ceases to function.

Look, the more holes it drills, the lower the cost per inch of holes. These are called “dry holes” in oil field research. They are called “additional scientific research” at NASA.

They should be called pork holes.

Elements like these represent a cross-section of key ingredients for life, suggesting Mars may once have sported an alien community of living microbes.

Cross-sections do not create life. Scientists don’t know what created life, but cross-sections surely didn’t.

That said, the new results fall far short of evidence for life itself – past or present. All the same, the picture now emerging of conditions on the fourth rock from the sun is encouraging. And scientists are excited.

Pork always excites scientists.

The latest findings show that habitable environments existed on Mars, says CSIRO astrophysicist Kurt Liffman. “It really is an important result: there are signs of water alteration, where the water was relatively neutral.”

The environment would have been conducive to primitive life-forms, Dr Liffman explains, although there is no evidence for these life-forms so far.

Translation: “Nothing yet. We need another hole. Maybe there will be fossils in the next hole. Each hole is 2.5 inches deep. There is plenty of planet remaining.”

The Earth boasts similar environments: dried lakebeds, for example, where ancient bacteria reside beneath the surface.

Translation: “There is life here on earth. There are also dried lakebeds here. There is lots of dry dirt on Mars. Let’s pretend these were lakebeds.”

Science marches on . . . at 2.5 inches per step.

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