From: email@example.com (Ginny)
Subject: Re: Mars !!!
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 1997 19:12:52 -0700 (PDT)
Thanks so much Ken, for your perspective! Very Important issue-the money dilemna and yes I think it should be discussed in the classroom. ginny At 2:56 PM 4/28/97, Ken Edgett wrote: >Dear Mars Educators, > >Greetings from sunny, warm, dry, Arizona. I'm glad to hear the dates >from Jan as to when LFM 2 will be rebroadcast-- because I missed it on >the 24th... > >I spent this past weekend (April 24-27) in Houston (rainy! flooding!) >at a conference about "Early Mars" and potenial for life on Mars. > >I told you last week in an email to expect a press conference on >Sunday, April 27 after the conference ended... well, the press didn't >come and the conference was cancelled. Apparently, the press wasn't >interested because the scientists at this meeting were not planning to >"decide" if there "really is life on Mars". The press doesn't understand >the process of science. > >The meeting brought together a wide range of scientific disciplines >that are all converging on the questions of the origin of life. THAT is >really what the search for life on Mars is really about-- how does >life start on a planet, and can life be different than that which we >have on Earth (i.e., is there only one way to do it?). > >People at this meeting included experts on the Early Earth-- people who >study the few rock outcrops on Earth that are older than 2 billion years. >It also included people who study the early climates of Earth and >Mars (mainly using climate models and what info can actually be inferred >from the rocks). Others included experts on the issues of the origin of >life, experts on Mars geology/geomorphology, people who study the >Mars meteorites, people who are looking at microscopic organisms that >live in "extreme" environments (e.g., black smokers, salty lakes), and >people that study fossilized microbes. (And more!). > >The conference was mainly a review of the state of knowledge in all >of these widely different fields. All of the participants (over 150 >people) were challenged to deal with information and knowledge far >outside their normal range of experience. Talk about interdisciplinary!! > > >Here is the main thing I learned, and my main point for writing you >this message: > >The people who presented and attended this workshop are all working at the >cutting edges of their respective fields. All of them are working on >VERY BIG QUESTIONS (e.g., where does life come from?) with VERY LITTLE >DATA to go on. They are all working in fields that are short on funding >(this is true all throughout science). They are all doing clever and >important science despite the data and funding limitations. In each >field, there are big controversies. The most fascinating controversy >revealed at the meeting (from the perspective of a Mars geologist, that >is), was the question of "nanobacteria"-- small things that look >like bacteria, but are too small to contain enough molecules to >function as living organisms. Despite the lack of funding, the lack >of data, and the exciting controversies, the BIG QUESTIONS being >asked are being addressed and can begin to be addressed because of >new instruments and technologies that are only now becoming >available that allow us to pursue these questions. > >It was very exciting, though it was also a difficult meeting to sit >through. The reason it was difficult-- no one in the room was >an expert on all the topics presented. No one can be an expert in >*everything*. And science doesn't have *everything* solved. The more >we look, the more questions we have. Things are being discovered >that we had no idea were even out there to be found. > >We live in amazing times. I only wish the funding levels could keep >up with the technology and intrigue. Be aware, for example (and this >was made painfully clear at the meeting), that the Mars Surveyor >program is *really* being done on the CHEAP. There are many questinos >about Mars that CANNOT be addressed in the 1997-2005 timeframe, NOT >because we don't know how, but because we don't have the money. Money >is a BIG constraint on the Mars program-- something worth considering >in the classroom as you have kids design instruments or missions or >think about Mars colonies, etc. The cost to each person (man, woman, >and child) in the United States for the Mars Surveyor Program is >about 50 cents a year-- or about the cost of a foot-long sandwhich >at Subway every 10 years. > >Ken Edgett >Arizona Mars K-12 Education Program >http://esther.la.asu.edu/asu_tes/ >Mars Global Surveyor Thermal Emission Spectrometer