Musings on the meteorites

"Is there life on Mars?
Is there life in Peckham?"

Alexei Sayle - Hallo John, gotta new motor?

And so yet another wonderful chapter in the history of the universe opens. There's life on Mars! Really? Well, sort of. It's difficult to get to grips with any real analysis amongst so much noise, but we will try.

Someone (NASA) found something (magnetite) in a meteorite (ALH84001) from Mars, or somewhere. And it looks like it might (1) be the sort of thing that a one-celled organism might have left behind it if it was wibbling about millions of years ago.

The day before Clinton stood in the White House harping on about the US's "aggressive" space programme being "vindicated" by the find "in these harsh economic times" (2), his competitor Bob Dole launched his "Republican National Platform" containing a commitment to a manned flight to Mars if elected. (And we're in the middle of pre-election fever at the time of writing...)

The global media then whipped up a frenzy of feel-good reports - often nicely packaged with Hollywood glitz in the shape of footage from the film "Independence Day". Just as wars and disasters in other countries seem to magically appear to divert attention away from trouble at home, the fossil on the meteorite arrived splat in the middle of "these harsh economic times".

And before the tests are even completed Russia and the USA are already competing with each other to get to Mars next year (3), at an estimated cost of $150 million per launch.

Why did this exciting revelation occur this year, when NASA was worrying mightily about its budget? And how does this fit in with a 30 year old US Government Report (4) that suggests that any discoveries of evidence of alien life should be withheld from the general public for some years for reasons of public order?

Government space agencies again show their corruption. The life on Mars spectacle is just another chapter in a the history of jingoism, oppression, self aggrandisement and electioneering. Again we see the possibilities for space exploration used like counters in the game of global politics, just like those other counters: war, poverty, starvation and every conceivable form of torture.

The AAA has said time and time again that it is futile to expect any steps towards establishing communities in space from these agencies. They require a population imprisoned on this planet for their very existence.

The point is not whether life existed on Mars millions of years ago. The point is WHAT are NASA and their opposites in Russia and Europe going to USE that knowledge for. The point, as ever, is what kind of life is there for the rest of us while the hypocritical back-slapping in the White House and the top secret military installations continues?

Talking about life on planet earth is like talking about rope in the house of a hanged man.

Raido AAA

(1) "New doubt over 'life on Mars' findings" Electronic Telegraph UK News Thursday 3 October 1996

(2) Speech at White House on Search for Life on Mars Conference August 7, 1996, 1:34 p.m.

(3) NASA launch the "Mars Global Surveyor" 6/11/96. Russia to follow with "Mars 96" on 16/11/96

(4) "Proposed Studies on the Implications of Peaceful Space Activities for Human Affairs", Brookings Institute report delivered to the Committee on Long Range Studies, NASA, November 1960. Submitted by NASA to the 87th Congress, 1st Session, April 18, 1961. House Report #242, Serial Set Vol #2, #12338. Reported in the New York Times Dec 15th 1960