Is there life on Mars or in Britain? 1
Perhaps it was just pure co-incidence that for the entire weekend, both the print and electronic (not to mention social media) had been saturated with the latest galactic adventure – to discover whether water and the possibility of human beings exist on Mars.
After Earth, Mars is the planet with the most hospitable climate in the solar system. So hospitable that it may once have harboured 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?’
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. The journey from Earth to Mars takes eight months.
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 programmes 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 regalvanised 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.
However, while all this frenzied speculation was going on, Professor Sigismund Dalmon-Sachs an eminent space scientist and prize-winning astronomer at the University of Cambridge went ballistic with his deadly missile: “Let sanity prevail. We should be more concerned with whether there is life in Britain.”
What had triggered his angst was the front page story of “The Sun” newspaper of Wednesday, March 16 , 2016 (the same day Mr. George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer presented his budget):
Headline: Spray at the races
Cheltenham Gee-Gees & Wee-Wees
Disgusting footie stars pee in cup then toss it off balcony
Footballers brought shame to the Cheltenham [Horse Racing] Festival yesterday by tossing glasses of wee from an executive box. A punter said: “They should be banned from the course and fined for indecent exposure.”
Also, there were amazing scenes when two boozy beauties flashed at racegoers. Dark-haired glamour model…pulled apart the front of her plunging halter-necked top to flash her right breast. Katie got in on the act after ex-Love Island star…flashed a boob while clutching a glass and a fag (cigarette).
Royal Zara Phillips was one of the scores of shocked punters who looked away. Punter Chris Walker said : “It was disgusting.”
The same event was reported slightly differently from Mars: “Spray at the races: Disgusting footie stars banned from Cheltenham after pouring wee over balcony.
RACE bosses this morning banned…and their pals from returning today for their £500-a-head Long Run executive box.
The Championship stars brought shame to the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival yesterday by tossing glasses of wee from an executive box.
Stars from a Championship club urinated into beer glasses in full view of crowds at the prestigious horse racing event and tossed the contents away.
To be continued tomorrow
Bashorun J.K. Randle is a former President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and former Chairman of KPMG Nigeria and Africa Region.