The secrets of Mars are being unlocked from several angles. There is the high profile approach of NASA’s Perseverance (the name might say more about NASA than the vehicle itself), then there is the mission from the UAE, as well as the Chinese one.
Then, oddly perhaps, there is a lake in Turkey. Lake Salda, known as Turkey’s ‘Maldives’, has the nearest match to minerals and rocks found in the Jerezo crater, where the Perseverance landed, than anywhere else on Earth. And scientists are hoping that correlating the findings from both sites (one with water) will help unlock the secrets of Mars. Both, they hope, will give up samples which have the building blocks of life.
While scientists obsess about unlocking the secrets of Mars, there are clues emerging about the origins of our solar system and planet, which might even divert some attention to issues closer to home.
A piece of meteorite found in Africa, for example, has been aged at around 4.5 billion years old, which is interesting since the Earth has been around less time than that. The latest theory on this is that our giant companion Jupiter ate a planet at some stage (probably 4.5 billion years ago), which changed the composition of our solar system.
Other clues seem to be whizzing our way, with the latest meteorite scattering lumps of rock around a market town called Winchcombe in England, which hitherto was famous for being, well, a market town in England.
A frustration with the unlocking of the secrets of Mars and whether there is, or was, life on the planet, is how much, or how little we know about Earth.
Scientists are even getting bogged down in the definition of life itself, and philosophers are putting their oars in to help them out. Many say it doesn’t really matter, there are so many different, and weird, forms of life on Earth, that arriving at a definition that encompasses everything is redundant before it starts.
Some would argue that this obsession with the secrets of Mars is merely getting in the way of sorting out our own planet. Ask yourself how many billions of dollars Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos et al are throwing into space and you have to ask yourself – as Bill Gates has done – how much could we do for our planet if we spent those billions trying to stay here, not get away.
And, again, there are so many weird lifeforms on Earth that unlocking distracting secrets of Mars and its obviously now past lives, seems a little like giving up. Anyway, the range of weirdness that exists here pretty much proves that we have no chance of understanding an alien race, even if it poked us with a stick.
Then again, there are aliens and aliens.