The White House is Briefed: Phoenix About to Announce “Potential For Life” on Mars

It would appear that the US President has been briefed by Phoenix scientists about the discovery of something more “provocative” than the discovery of water existing on the Martian surface. This news comes just as the Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyzer (TEGA) confirmed experimental evidence for the existence of water in the Mars regolith on Thursday. Whilst NASA scientists are not claiming that life once existed on the Red Planet’s surface, new data appears to indicate the “potential for life” more conclusively than the TEGA water results. Apparently these new results are being kept under wraps until further, more detailed analysis can be carried out, but we are assured that this announcement will be huge

So why is there all this secrecy? According to scientists in communication with Aviation Week & Space Technology, the next big discovery will need to be mulled over for a while before it is announced to the world. In fact, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory science team for the MECA wet-chemistry instrument that made these undisclosed findings were kept out of the July 31st news conference (confirming water) so additional analysis could be carried out, avoiding any questions that may have revealed their preliminary results. They have also made the decision to discuss the results with the Bush Administration’s Presidential Science Advisor’s office before a press conference between mid-August and early September.

Although good news, Thursday’s announcement of the discovery of water on Mars comes as no surprise to mission scientists and some are amused by the media’s reaction to the TEGA results. “They have discovered water on Mars for the third or fourth time,” one senior Mars scientist joked. These new MECA results are, according to the Phoenix team, a little more complex than the water “discovery.” Scientists are keen to point out however, that this secretive news will in no way indicate the existence of life (past or present) on Mars; Phoenix simply is not equipped make this discovery. What it can do is test the Mars soil for compounds suitable to support life. The MECA instrument does have microscopes capable of resolving bacterial-scale life forms however, but this is not the focus of the forthcoming announcement, sources say.

This new MECA discovery, combined with TEGA data will probably expose something more compelling, completing another piece of the puzzle in the search for the correct conditions for life as we know it to survive on Mars. Critical to this search is to understand how the recently confirmed water and Mars regolith behave together under the Phoenix lander in the cold Martian arctic.

The MECA instrument had already made the landmark discovery that Mars “soil” was much like the soil more familiar on Earth. This finding prompted scientists to indicate that the minerals and pH levels in the regolith could support some terrestrial plants, indicating this would be useful for future Mars settlers.

What with the discovery of water, and the discovery that Mars soil is very much like the stuff we find on Earth, it is hard to guess as to what the MECA’s second soil test has discovered. What ever it is, it sounds pretty significant, especially as NASA and the University of Arizona are taking extraordinary steps to avoid any more details being leaked to the outside world. I just hope were not getting excited over something benign…

So what will this compelling discovery be? Leave your guess below…

Source: Aviation Week

458 Replies to “The White House is Briefed: Phoenix About to Announce “Potential For Life” on Mars”

  1. It’s great that these robotic probes allow us to get science news from the robot’s mouth so quickly – I suppose the normal process of research, article, find publisher, publish[, get flamed] would be incredibly tedious with the amount of new information coming from these probes. Who wants to write articles when you have this cool toy to play with 😀

    Still, I have to wonder at what could be so ‘big’ that it requires the white-house to be briefed. Were they briefed before the water was revealed?

    I have several hypothetical cases forming in my mind, things like seismic activity, discovery of an organic or other interesting compound in ice (perhaps oxygen, or something like sulphur dioxide which could be a hint at microbial life)?

    I’m sure we all await with bated breath.

  2. Everyone needs to just chill out and maintain low expectations until it comes out – then there will be no disappointment if it turns out to be a little more mundane than some seem to anticipate… Of course it could be more major, which would be great!

  3. Why not high expectations? Perhaps they found a dead mouse.
    Seriously, it’s a strange story.

  4. Maybe he’s going to announce the “War on Mars” is over;)

  5. i cannot help but get the sense some big shifts are currently underway, something big happening… mainly why does the vatican feel it has to tell its followers believeing in aliens doesnt contradict their faith? future insurance perhaps? dont wanna get caught with their pants down?

  6. maybe it’s something organic.

    Not living organisms, but maybe something that can only have come from a some form of life.

  7. @Ben Seymour
    *Vatican* didn’t announce anything about aliens, it’s not their jurisdiction, so to speak. The question was asked in an interview with the manager of the Vatican Observatory a few months ago to which he replied, basically, that *he* doesn’t see any contradiction there. The question pops up every once in a while and the answer is always the same but the Vatican has no official position on this matter. It’s up to the faithful to make up there own minds.

    As to the impending announcement, it is in my opinion most likely that they found some interesting minerals, like say nitrogen bearing compounds and other stuff that are useful for growing plants. But like with everybody here, it’s just a guess. Not even an educated one.


  8. Reading the first paragraph through RSS feed, I got the impression Ian was pulling another one of the conspiracy debunking post like the 2012 or asteroid stories posted this past month.or so 🙂

    However I’m not holding my breath and keep my expectations low not to be disappointed, like the media hyped supernova announcement back in May, so I’ll go with Adam on the minerals/indicators. I doubt they took a picture of a Jack rabbit running circles around Phoenix :o)

  9. The president should consider preempitve nuclear strike against martian microbes before they become inteligent and later develop nuclear capabilities themselves… 😉

  10. I’m with Jim and SilverThread on this one… What possible reason would we entrust any important discovery to Bush’s “Science” people? He has likely done more to purposefully ignore and suppress science than any president in modern times.

  11. “So why is there all this secrecy? According to scientists in communication with Aviation Week & Space Technology, the next big discovery will need to be mulled over for a while before it is announced to the world.”

    How does that make any sense? The “world” has no right to know, but George Bush does? That and the whole second paragraph of this article should make anybody uncomfortable about this.

  12. Attention, site owner…

    You might want to remove your sitemeter code – it’s causing your page to fail when loading in IE7.

  13. If the rumor is true that the White House has been briefed first, then this is what will happen:

    It will be a major scientific announcement that will be hailed as a significant discovery by the scientific and reality based community, but the Hoaglands and Sitchins of this world (and their acolytes who read this blog) will poo-poo the announcement as a something “we knew already” and continue to accuse NASA of covering up the real truth about Mars.

    That will be a shame since they will be unable to share in the joy of the scientists who have worked so hard and for so long to get to the point where such discoveries can be made.

  14. Well, I think you are blowing this thing totally out of proportion, Ian. In all likelyhood, the White House was briefed simply to try to explain them what’s that new substance that was discovered on Mars, that – howzitcal’d? – “water”.

    Re: the “vatican” slope. Well, if god created the Earth, as the guys in dresses say, then he is, by definition, an alien. So what’s new?

  15. It makes me a little concerned that they are discussing it with the Bush “Science” people before the announcement. The Bush administration has twisted science information before.

  16. Press Conference Begins

    “Yeah, so we were digging around in the dirt on Mars looking for water and, um, we dug up a couple worms.”

    “Worms? You called a press conference because you dug up a worm?”

    “Sweety, these are worms living on Mars. We just discovered life on another planet in our solar system. All your bases are belong to us, that sort of thing.”

  17. Why bother telling the “Bush Administration” First? Tell the People we’re the ones FUNDING the operation, it’s our damned Probe, not the Bush Administrations.

    It’s a load of Crap, if we Want to Know and it’s something that is likely to have an effect on our lives in some way, I sure as Hell don’t want it to be filtered through a regime of people who appear to have some questionable motivations in an election year anyhow.

    Sorry to sound Cynical, but I doubt an evangelical redneck recovering from a cocaine addiction honestly gives a rat’s ass about science, except to find a way to exploit it for his own gain.

  18. Maybe the bacteria contamination brought in on the lander is growing better than anticipated

  19. Well maybe this time when the Vatican is caught with their pants down, they can make sure that no alter boys present.

  20. Attention JLawson: stop using a buggy browser.

    The thing I like about all of this is that we have known about the soil being the same as earth’s for a long time, we just kept it under wraps.

    I imagine we found bacteria, or evidence thereof. (Though I would love it if NASA were to come out about ETI)

  21. Maybe it’s bad news. Maybe the natural environment of Mars is toxic to humans.

  22. Silver hit the nail right on the head. Since when did scientific discovery and innovation fall under the control of a fascist Nazi dictator?(Google Prescott Bush) The information should have been fully disclosed and published for the public just like any other scientific piece.

    Why does nobody see a problem with an international war criminal known for telling lies and fabricating stories being involved in ANY process of releasing information? That is like giving a kilo of cocaine to a hardcore cocaine addict and asking them to hold on to it for you; then expecting a solid kilo back a month later.

    The real issue is not what crafted lies the public and scientific community will be fed when they figure out the best way to tell it other than say it was Tenet’s fault. Rather, it is the fact that precedence has been set to start filtering discoveries and outright neutering of science and discoveries through a far too powerful central government.

    Stop being push over weakling Americans that bend over and spread your cheeks for your masters. A powerful central government is your enemy as it was the Founding Fathers; learn your history before it becomes censored.

    My guess on what the announcement will be? The excrement of a male bovine.

  23. Der. Phoenix captured Bin Laden. No wonder he couldn’t be found in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

  24. only a few things come to mind.
    1.The total amount of ice is much more that we thought and easy to get to
    2. that there is suggestion that there is microbal life frozen in the ice
    3. Mars is still alive and drives some hotspring that does not melt surface ice
    4.yeti tracks, Jimmy Hoffa and Nessie all caught on camera at tea time.

  25. Either a 10% discount coupon at Marvin the Martians gas’n’go with a chance to win a weeks(Martian) stay on planet X for three OR they’ve just scraped the top of an impenetrable monolith just under the ice.

  26. History of a failed civilization which made drugs illegal and since the people couldn’t smoke marijuana legally, they died of agony due to unhappiness and loss of freedom.

  27. They will discover that the lunar landing was actually filmed on Mars. Filling a new generation of conspiracy theorists with the paranoiac’s equivalent of glee.

  28. They found out that Phoenix arrived at the wrong destination… in fact was taking samples from Siberian soil which by coincidence it’s Rusia’s teritory… so that’s trespassing and explains why Bush should be informed first.

  29. Or, I got a really good one: they caught in one of the photos a small object which magnified by few times over showed… the China’s flag.

  30. The discovered Pepsi in the TEGA analysis, wich may have polluted the detection of water announced earlier… May, as there is not conclusive proof that Pepsi actually contains water…

  31. “Hello Mr. Bush, f**k the Life on Mars project, we found huge 2000 karat diamonds. That will solve Nasa funding for the next 4 bilion years. What do you think, a Mars manned mission every two years, 400kilos each time… we make it 50-50…does it sound this right?”

  32. For many, a few cells in the womb does not constitute “life”. I can’t wait to hear the rational from the scientific community for “life” when a few dead cells are discovered in the Martian dirt.

  33. A recent copy of ‘Todays Martian Scientist’ speculating on the probability of life elsewhere in the solar sytem just blew up and stuck on Phoenix’ cameras.

  34. I can see them starting this discussion this way:
    “OK, Mr. President,
    This red ball is a planet called Mars?
    Do yo know what a planet is?”

  35. Nah, you guys are silly,
    they found an ozone hole, that’s causing global warming. And that is causing acid rain which is hurting the newly found bacteria.
    So please send your money today to
    [email protected] and we can help prevent the bacteria from being harmed by our human interaction with their planet.

  36. In my opinion the most important ingredients still not accounted for are (the right) aminoacids, the building blocks for RNA.

  37. They found the holy grail using Martian pop rocks.
    They claim the place is nothing but pop rocks.
    Some claim there is a magical variety of martian pop rocks.. We can only wonder if the type used was of the magical or just common pop rocks. If you can call martian pop rocks common I sure can’t.

    How did the Holy Grail get to mars? Bush has confiscated the grail and hinted he may offer it up on ebay .

  38. Did anyone actually look at the photo?

    Is it just me, or are there far too many perfect lines in the rocks and formations just north of the rover?

    In fact, it almost looks like it’s sitting on a larger disc of some sort, which clearly appears to be buried.


  39. It’s so obvious folks… they found *OIL* under the ice… which, btw, also obviously means there was life there many zillions of years ago, if anyone cares.

    Seriously, I bet it’s hydro carbons of some sort.

  40. think:

    Not everyone wants to use firefox, he’s just saying it doesn’t work with IE and recommending a fix.

    (obligitory ‘opera’s better’ comment)

  41. They found marijuana crossed with kudzu and now cannabis will grow everywhere! Visit and read about the new bill which will end federal persecution of small amounts of individual marijuana, nation wide!

  42. The Missing White House E-Mails.

    in soviet Russa findings discover you

    The very first post.

    I personally welcome our new Mars findings overloards

    all your findings are belong to mars

    cowboyneals DNA

    Ok mom I’ll up from the basement and take my medication now…

  43. I think YOGIH is probably closest, satire aside. Most likely, they found something – maybe a silicate compound or something, that people back home might consider valuable and they want to break the news carefully worrying about some kind of “california gold rush” to mars where a lot of unprepared, unsafe commercial missions (which seems to be all the craze these days..) get a lot of people killed…

  44. to piso mojado: they say it’s not alive and diatoms are life… unless they’re dead diatoms, lol.

    I would also bet in the aminoacids, it would be a great breakthrough.

    either that OR

    a fossilized soviet from some early 60’s secret mission (sorry, no one said this one before, lol)

  45. Just another story relating to the speculations of the irresponsible tabloid American media – doing anything to gain some notoriety or some pre-emptive fame.

    i always thought the media should be presenting the news and not being the story itself – especially science media. Any scientist should always present the facts to draw conclusions, and announce the outcome if necessary. Wanting to forewarn of scientific breakthroughs gives science just a bad name – the same as the astrologers, faith healers, the charlatans, and the self=professed prophets. You might as well be reading chicken entrails and hiring a psychic to portent the future…
    So please, if we must talk about scientific things, let’s not talk of the mumbo-jumbo of the possible or the probable, but centre on the substantiated fact or observation.

  46. @ Tim Smith. As much as it goes against with my earth related beliefs, I DO hope they found some useful mineral. Something so valuable that it will super a 21 century gold rush. Be it mars is littered with diamonds or as someone else joked bleeds oil (which then confirms life).

    The reason it goes against my earth beliefs is I am not a fan of huge corporations and the rape of earth resources. However a private company sponsored mars excavation would push the turtles pace of space development into over drive. It’s what the world needs. Non bureaucratic mumbo jumbo mucking scientific progress.

    Lastly in the 1849 gold rush was the reason for many lost live, in the name of progress. A space pioneer takes a risk, and doing so helps all mankind.

  47. I think bush is so stupid he doesn’t know the different between the Moon and Mars. He probably thinks the moon is mars.
    Thus the de-briefing:

    “Ah, Mr President, we discovered water on mars.”
    “Hmmm, dats very inter-resting. How come they didn’t find water during the Apollo missions?”
    “Mr. President, the Apollo missions went to the Moon.”
    “The Moon! Damn, I thought that was Mars! Crap! I announced the wrong mission!”

  48. HUH?? The series on the Discovery channel has already announced that the soil on Mars is slightly alkaline and could possibly support plant life… So what is all this “mystery” about? Maybe the press/NASA should watch TV.. check out this site..

  49. OK, hopefully this will be it – organics or methane or maybe even a spore or an indicator of follilized life. I am so pumped I can’t even remember the name of my book….

    Well, whatever the name was, taking two months doesn’t feel like an imminent discovery anyway… felt like two months in the dentists office.

    Whatever it is, Congratulations, and continued Good Luck Phoenix!!!

  50. The Bush Administration, by following some sharp political logic, will announce Mars to be an American ‘province’ since we control most of the toys on Mars. Hence, due to the fact that it is a ‘Red Planet’ the obvious outcome would be a vote in McCain’s favor.

    And besides, a Red Planet trumps a Red State any day…

  51. The press conference will reveal that OIL has been discovered. The next mission to Mars will have Exxon painted on the rocket.

  52. I love how the first thing these scientist experts do is to inform the president, probably the guy on planet earth who knows the least about Mars (or any other planet including this one).
    What do they expect, a rational decision based on science? or rhetorical mumbo-jumbo of made-up words and pure emotion that ends up in a war against an ill-defined and/or nonexistent enemy..
    I wonder if they briefed GWB using puppets so he’d understand.

  53. I can’t understand this at all. We have data that needs more analysis. The data is not ready for peer review (you know, science) Well we better get the Prez on the phone then, this is big. The only case that makes sense is if they discovered something with possible military value and there is no doubt about the result. I vote yellow cake uranium.

  54. Joe and bush bashers,

    You’ve got the wrong party when it comes to stupidity and science.

    Check out Sheila Jackson Lee:

    On a visit to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Lee, a member of the House Science Committee’s space subcommittee, asked if the Mars Pathfinder had taken an image of the flag Neil Armstrong planted there in 1969!

    Your hyperbole example of perceived stupidity of our republican president looks a bit moronic considering the reality of this democratic house representative.

    Seriously, it astounds me that someone could be so ignorant (both her and you).

    It scares me that you may be a voter… *sigh* we’re doomed if everyone is this stupid.

    Service guarantees citizenship!

  55. It’s probably something simple like:

    They found money trees do exist and are growing on mars.

    or the whole planet of Mars is made up of gold.

  56. I’s say put the sarcasm away for a few days. Finding evidence of life on Mars is a discovery that will last the ages. We are fortunate enough to be alive to (perhaps) watch it happen. What would you want the future to read about this day? Would it be something trivial, or something deeper? To me, the chance to watch an historic discovery like this is the dream of a lifetime. It’s truly a new age of life on Earth to realize that the entire Universe is not “ours” – and we’d better care for this Earth…”Our” only home.

    Good Luck Phoenix!

  57. I’ll bet it’s where those WMD’s are, proof we needed to invade two countries and occupy both of them because they couldn’t possibly carry on without us.

  58. I’m getting concerned this is a hoax. Neither Phil Plait nor Emily Lakdawalla has picked up on this so far. It has not appeared in any mainstream news website, even Fox News, home of the Montauk Monster. I’m losing my mind chasing over the web for some confirmation.

  59. It could be teleporter technology! We should send some marines though space to secure it with some scientists. What could possibly go wrong!

  60. @ Marbles: (you seem to have lost yours.)
    This is simply about the non discloser of what should be public information. Not about how dumb a member of congress (very) is or idiotic the president is (extremely).

    It’s sad to think important NASA related information needs to be filtered through any president before released to the tax paying masses.

  61. Ok… Multiple jokes already about oil, WMD’s, bin laden..

    It was funny the first time but quite posting them like your the first to think it up..


  62. There are several reasons why the info is being kept under wraps:

    * Believe it or not, it actually takes time to do science properly

    * Whatever it is, it is certainly a first, so will grab people’s attention (for 30 seconds away from Facebook)

    * They don’t want to announce something that is later discredited, so they’re checking their results

    * While they are checking their results they don’t want another team to steal their thunder (since these days scientific funding depends on you getting results before your competition)

    * They tell the White House early so they get the original science team gets the credit.

    See, it’s simple. No conspiracies needed, ok?

  63. To Astrophysicist,

    Your points make sense, and I certainly hope this is for real, but how did Aviation “Leak” and Space Technology get the scoop? Who blabbed?

  64. “NASA has lost focus and is no longer associated with inspiration,” he said. “I don’t think our kids are watching the space shuttle launches. It used to be a remarkable thing. It doesn’t even pass for news anymore.”
    Barack Obama interviewed by Cleveland’s WKYC-TV

    Suck that, all you with Bush Derangement Syndrome…..

  65. Now, seriously, if they found ALL the necessary ingredients to support life, what’s the best plant to start with at such low temperatures, maybe the arctic lichens? I heard that they release oxygen. Would be any good or this will disperse out of the atmosphere? “Lichens are virtually indestructible and grow in funky places. No place is too cold, to dry or too hot for Lichens to grow. They have even survived at minus 460 degrees F (-273 C) — absolute zero. Scientists use lichen to estimate when glaciers disappeared!! Lichens are colonizers, meaning they are always the first to move into new areas, and they do so fast”

  66. God Speed Phoenix, cuz it’s been a struggle, so many naybobs of negativism! …and God Bless our President, and I do mean DUBYA you commies. Cant you guys just lay off the rhetoric till after the elections and speak with your vote?

    I’m speculating …perhaps “bacterial comtamination brought in on the lander” as per above, Joey… or…

    I like the idea of frozen/inactive bacteria also… see Rea above.

  67. It would be fun if the announcement is that Phoenix detected * movement * in the soil that was not caused by wind.

    Because if it moves, it lives.

  68. My top 8 list of what Nasa could be discussing secretly with the president.
    1: The vatican said what it said to condition people to believe that the alien on to be revealed IS their god and not Scientology’s so as to keep getting donations for the catholic church.

    2: maybe they found nuclear/radioactive material on mars.
    3: maybe they found gold or something precious in abundance on mars.
    4:maybe they found dna on mars
    5: maybe they found foreign radio waves or something on mars
    6. maybe they found they could boil an egg faster on mars.
    7. maybe they found that they had accidentally germinated the soil with life from earth and now it is taking over the planet (the truth came out some time ago that NASA is unable to sterilize the spacecraft it is sending to other planets.
    8. Tom Cruise looked into the lander’s camera and said “I told you so!”
    9. Nasa told Bush that his sanctuary to escape world justice has begun construction on Mars!

  69. Upon reflection, Phil and Emily, being scientists themselves, would go along with an embargo.

  70. People forget that the Viking landers from the 70’s did $heated sophisticated soil analysis on mars and found results that didn’t fit what the scientists were expecting.

    Recently a scientist looked at those 1970’s results /data again with what we know now about extreme types of life and determined the probability was that the Viking Landers discovered life on Mars way back in the 1970’s.

  71. @Marbles Says:
    August 2nd, 2008 at 1:21 pm
    Joe and bush bashers,
    You’ve got the wrong party when it comes to stupidity and science.
    On a visit to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Lee, a member of the House Science Committee’s space subcommittee, asked if the Mars Pathfinder had taken an image of the flag Neil Armstrong planted there in 1969!
    Your hyperbole example of perceived stupidity of our republican president looks a bit moronic considering the reality of this democratic house representative.
    Seriously, it astounds me that someone could be so ignorant (both her and you).
    It scares me that you may be a voter… *sigh* we’re doomed if everyone is this stupid.
    Service guarantees citizenship!

    @Cowboy says


  72. Astrophysicist Says:

    August 2nd, 2008 at 2:02 pm
    There are several reasons why the info is being kept under wraps:

    * Believe it or not, it actually takes time to do science properly
    –Soooo send it to George Bush ?????

    * Whatever it is, it is certainly a first, so will grab people’s attention (for 30 seconds away from Facebook)
    –Soooo make the public wait ?????

    * They don’t want to announce something that is later discredited, so they’re checking their results
    –Soooo send it to George Bush for him to verify it?????

    * While they are checking their results they don’t want another team to steal their thunder (since these days scientific funding depends on you getting results before your competition)
    –And competition is bad for the scientific community ???

    * They tell the White House early so they get the original science team gets the credit.
    –Kind of like having Stevie Wonder to tell you your painting is the most beautiful. Great idea ???

    See, it’s simple. No conspiracies needed, ok?

    Watch out for the conspirator Astrophysicist. He almost got me.

  73. I’ll start by saying that I’m a huge opposer of the Bush Administration.

    That out of the way, it’s only natural that he would be one of the first people “briefed” on any significant discoveries. In layman’s terms, its one of the quirks of being the “leader of the free [hahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahah…….. hahahahahahhahahahahahahahhahahahahha] world”.

    My opinion is that the best way to look at all of this is that if they had to “brief” good ol’ Dubya on anything Mars based, then it’s probably of some sort of significance.

    Just saying.

  74. Carbon and oxygen are created in the cores of stars and spread when the stars go supernova. Hydrogen naturally occurs in space, being the lowest energy state of a simple combination of quarks and electrons. The solar wind is mostly protons,which are hydrogen atoms stripped of their single electrons.

    Hydrocarbons are not a sign of the evolution of life, but rather a sign of the evolution of stars and the natural chemisty of carbon when combined with hydrogen, oxygen and energy.

    The earth is full of various forms of hydrocarbons, including petroleum, but most of it came from the condensed remains of the supernovae that preceded our solar system.

    Less than 1% of the hydrocarbons in the earth are a result of biological processes.

    Coal, on the other hand, has been proven to have fossils embedded within it thus making it likely that at least some of it did come from ancient biological processes.

    No one seriously credits all of the methane in the atmosphere of Jupiter with biological activity. The absorption spectra of methanol and other more complex hydrocarbons, including the amino acid glycine, have been observed in interstellar clouds. No one seriously credits biological activity with the presence of those interstellar hydrocarbons either.

    It would be more surprising if they found no hydrocarbons on Mars.

  75. Seriously folks,
    This is big stuff… as a clinical scientist, I am sooo focused on this. Basic chemistry is the same throughout the universe. Carbon, nitrogen, yada yada….
    These JPL and Arizona folks has worked their ass offf, lost sleep, and done a wonderful job with our tax payer dollars. Why they have to brief Bush, I’ve no clue, but it certainly indicates the importance of this new data.
    Don’t think it’s a Starbucks or oil or dead mouse.
    My guess… evidence of dead microbial amino acid structures…

  76. People! PLEASE!
    This is OBVIOUS!

    (Andre was closest.)

    Its either Elvis,

    A Wal-Mart,

    or a 64 Volkswagen Bus,
    complete with a copy of ‘Ummagumma’ by
    Pink Floyd in the 8-track player.

    Im pretty sure its gonna be one of those…..

  77. They Discovered an EULA, starting with “By scratching the surface of this planet you agree to transfer ownership of the souls of all liveforms on your home planet to….”

  78. No,

    History can’t record these comments to crystalize the reactions of mankind for all time. Now I’m really glad that I ran the contest on the “Imminent Discovery” blog site and collected many more thoughtful comments on the potential discovery of life on Mars. The level of thought going into most of the comments here is somewhat disheartening. Only a few are even witty.

  79. I guess, the president’s briefing material will be available on wikileaks on Sunday morning. Secrecy is a lost cause in the net age!

  80. a crashed alien ship!

    or or..

    transparent alien beings that are messing with the little robot. sending it transmissions!!

  81. Oil, WMDs, life, Jimmy Hoffa, Osama bin Laden, 2001 monolith, Elvis, worms, Statue of LIberty, gold, feces, Starbucks, iPhone — you threw out everything but what this crowd lives for — beer. I’m shocked!

    I think they found a reason to go ask for more money.

  82. HI universetoday guys, you have been invaded by reddit, slashdot and digg. It is all my fault and I am really really sorry.. flyspagmon@reddit..

  83. They observed the same bacteria like structures found in the Martian meteorite discovered in the antarctic. Thus, proving that they came from Mars. But still not proving that they were ever alive.

  84. I have to agree, many of the comments on this article are virtually useless.

    The article as posted here, and on aviation week ecplitily rules out evidence proving the existence of life past, or present.

    The Aviation Week article states:

    Sources say the new data do not indicate the discovery of existing or past life on Mars. Rather the data relate to habitability–the “potential” for Mars to support life–at the Phoenix arctic landing site, sources say.

    Given that it was MECA that made the discovery, it’s probably going to relate to trace elements, and possibly trace nutrients present in the ice itself, which explains why, as the article says, they want to make further analysis before they make an announcement.

  85. Seriously I think it means that they have determined that this is the spot for the first mars colonization. it has all th requirements to grow food and has water so if you basically put a dome on it to control temperature and atmosphere you can build a city. SO we skip going to the moon first and head to mars for the first colony.

    Either that or they discovered Mars is simply the big round red head of RICK ASTLEY and we are all being RICK ROLLED!!!!

  86. I am expecting an announcement from the Whitehouse shortly to the effect of “proof the the lord Jesus Christ is our saviour and commands the invasion of Iran”.

  87. Addendum:

    It has to be something to do with the composition of the ice, if you think about it, becaus ethey’ve already run MECA tests on the soil.

  88. They found a note saying:

    “Chuck Norris was here”

    There’s one on every planet…

  89. Only one commentator got remotely close to the real reason our Present Occupant was informed before us. It’s an issue of national security of course; they found the obelisk finally. It’s only logical, things are in a mess and it’s time for the “Star Child”!

  90. I secon jhoger’s idea that terraforming may be feasible. Using bacteria to increase the atmospheric density and such.

  91. Hey Marbles,

    you must be one of the 13 percenters that thinks bush is the best president we’ve ever had. LOL.

  92. Why would scientists consult with the criminal lowlifes that run the Whitehouse? Sorry, I’m not buying this story.

  93. It’s just me or that rock next to “Cupboard” line left a track???? Is it moving????

  94. I think that this will probably be the end of us. We will find something like oil or livable conditions, and we will travel up their in 2012, or so, like planned and one of the astronauts will unknowingly bring back some microbes, that will wipe out the human population on earth in a pandemic. Also some sort of end is predicted by the Mayans in 2012. We’re screwed.

  95. They found a note saying:

    “To whom it may concern, we have quadrillions of barrels of carbon-free oil, trillions of tons of palladium, billions of tons of pure thorium, and more candy bars than you can shake a stick at. However we have no women, nor an ability to travel through space, nor transmit radio waves, although we can pick them up.

    “Therefore we propose a trade. Send us the women of Baywatch, plus Britney, plus Paris Hilton, plus Miss December, plus the top 100 women of Maxim, plus Kucinich’s wife. In return you can mine us to your hearts content. However don’t try to cheat us or we’ll use our friggin laser and blow Earth to bits.

    “In short, Mars needs women.”

  96. Amino acids, not quite life, but a precursor–makes sense–because the Bush croneys at NASA would never want the born-again Prez’ followers to be shocked that conditions for life might exist elsewhere in the Universe. Will be interesting to follow.

  97. There is no speaking with your votes. Florida 2000 & Ohio 2004 where Republicans went out of their way to deny and deter black votes. Think that is a far out claim while your Republican mind struggles with the big words and fails at spelling? Look into the practices the Republican regime exercises in Georgia when they abuse a crossover rule in primaries to exclude the candidates wanted and who would win due to the amount of black voters supporting them (Who also want to know the truth and actually value freedom and liberty). Speak with your vote…ignorant uninformed simpleton. Your redneck corn fed white bread redneck hick dictator has done more to fuel fascism and communism in this country than has anybody else. Patriot Act and his spying and all his other destructions of freedom and liberty and privacy while overpowering a central government dominated by his illegal executive orders and terror police with their secret flights, kidnappings and tortures. It would make Stalin shed a tear of pride and envy and bring Mao in for lessons.

    This is just one more step in that direction as science becomes filtered and controlled by them. That is the problem. This is not reviewing data and findings and this is not preventing theft of a discovery. Does your neighbor have a probe on Mars doing the exact same tests too? Open your eyes and think for yourself.

  98. Ammonia is my best guess.

    Although, if they find the giant pile of missing socks then I won’t be disappointed.

    I revel in the fact that even though the majority of our population is borderline dysfunctional, we still sent Phoenix to Mars.

  99. Everyone complaining about them consulting Bush… maybe its because he can get them money for further operations. Please complain about being a tax payer, because that means a lot. Youre one person, and cant do anything that would actually benefit Nasa most likely, but the President, who can spend billions upon billions of dollars can help Nasa if they manage to convince him. Plus the fact that secrecy is common in every government. Oh Im a tax payer I deserve to know whats going on with my money!!!!!!! Well too bad, there are tons of things you will never know what has happened or still is.

    Being a nobody, got to love it huh?

  100. Very disappointing that the US Govt. must be briefed first. Just release the findings and let the world decide. Is there a real Area 51 ? Someone will leak it.

  101. I am not sure if the instruments are capable of detecting amino acids, but if I had to guess, I would guess they found amino acids.


  102. Soham,
    Truth is, until Bush is out of the White House, there will be no integrity in US agency’s announcements. NASA has been no different from the EPA. Total corruption for the last 8 years. Can’t wait till 2009, but we’re gonna be stuck for the clean-up costs of this administration for years. I’ve researched it. There’s no way of stopping it through tax protests. Unfortunately, our only way is through congress.

  103. Phoenix has found a complex material which, if found on Earth, would be said to have been made by an “advanced technological society.”

  104. Well, take what we know as of now: They found ice, they found water, and some soil that is not unlike our own. Most likely, they found microbial life in either the soil when combined with our water that was on-board the S/C, or microbial life already present in the water. There you go guys. That is it. Call the press conference now.

  105. “There’s no way of stopping it through tax protests. Unfortunately, our only way is through congress.”

    Congress is just as bad as the President. Lets see, the democrats just walked out of Congress today I believe for summer break while the Republicans stayed and called for the Dems to stay and fix gas prices before the 5 week vacation. Well Dems dont care about gas prices…

    Everyone will work towards their own motives. Every human being does. Noone is perfect and everyone looks out for their own interests. No matter if its the greatest idea ever, congress would probably end up split on the matter, or the President would veto it, or the President tries to do something then Congress vetos it. Just like the United Nations and Russia/China being able to veto anything we try to do there. Unless people are making money, they dont care about anything else.

  106. “I revel in the fact that even though the majority of our population is borderline dysfunctional, we still sent Phoenix to Mars.”

    You impress easily. I’m waiting for when we send Mars to Phoenix.

  107. In 2009 the feds corruption will shift from a red phase to a blue phase. I don’t expect any more of a clearing house than happened in the wake of Clinton or Carters departure.

    That said, I suspect its a “chemical building blocks” discovery.
    The detection of life or its precursors on another world would be a great but worrisome discovery. The obvious implication (which would not be lost on religious folks) is that we were not alone at some point in our prehistory.

    The chances of life happening twice in any single system should be astronomically low. Any evidence that suggests otherwise also suggests that life may be alot more common in th universe than it seems.

    This is certainly something to tell the president. Whether you like his party or not.

  108. Not oil, maybe..but what about another energy source that was since unknown??

    This is interesting….

  109. They’re taking the matter to the White house to answer one question:
    “Now that there are no Soviet Commies any longer, whose face can we rub it in?”

  110. Hmmm… a really good pizza place that can make timely deliveries to Syrtis Major?

    A Martian gas/service station that specializes in repairing some of those problematic spacecraft/probes from Earth? (and knows the difference between the English and Metric systems of measurement…)

    Finding out that Arthur C. Clarke’s “Banyon trees” really are living trees and not just the results of soil temperature variations/freezing/thawing…

    Native, vastly more intelligent life that has been on Mars for millions of years creating one of the most beautiful and peaceful civilizations in this portion of the Galaxy – that is, until… unfortunately… we recently destroyed all of them with a Human plague similar to Small Pox.

    Nucleic acids or even just a few Amino Acids? Whole strands of DNA, RNA, or, ??? Maybe, even a few new, previously unknown types of base pairs (who says life has to be limited to TAGCU…)

    Okay, I give up, must be some of those water-filled, planet-wide, irrigation canals, enormous pyramids, vast cities of crystal & stone, faces carved into the rocky surface, etc. I just knew Hogland was right and that there was a massive cover up of the “real truth”… 😉 [Extremely large dose of sarcasm inserted here: X ] 😉

    BTW, Clarke maintained until his dying day that the Bush admin already knew that Mars contained life, but was afraid to announce it for many reasons. Go figure. I just hope that the “trees” are real as they seemed pretty amazing in Marsden’s pictures of the Martian surface.

  111. The big announcement is that the Mars lander will plant some Arctic type algae in the water/soil with the hope that the growth will eventually change the atmosphere to enable human survival. If the algae successfully propagates and spreads, it will change the albedo of the planet, the ground will warm and the atmosphere will have a small increase in oxygen. Eventually we can send plants to grow. It’s like a very large, but official, grow-op. Cheers

  112. Soham,
    Actually, the Demovrats adjourned congress today and the Republicans had some antics, with the cameras turned off that made some news–beside the point. But, I don’t disagree with your basic premise. There should be a way to protest, politically, by refusing to pay our taxes (I think that’s what you’re saying), but there isn’t. Trouble awaits all non-payers of taxes, even if it is a really legitimate protest vote. IRS can do really bad things, so we can’t even think of that. What we need to do is really pressure our congress people, vote them out of office if they don’t share our views and NEVER, EVER, EVER VOTE REPUBLICAN, AGAIN.

  113. They found Waldo! Or perhaps they found out that they should have sent a poet. Or they found a stargate to go with their first one! OR they might have found inner peace. But at this point it’s all speculation of course. Oh oh, the other half of that Mars rock we have! Or they found those guys from that Halebop-sect! Which is now headed by Major Tom! No no no, I’ve got it now- they found the Higgs particle! Or maybeee.. If you look a bit philosophically at it.. They might have found the MOON! Ok, no not the moon. That would be weird. Ok, so maybe it’s not that complicated, perhaps they just found out that their wives have been cheating on them all along. Oh, I’ve got it now.. A big sign saying “NO FAT CHICKS!” And what about that “MECA”-device, eh? In case they find life and it turns out to be Godzilla? Or they have to report that one of the Phoenix crew members have met with an unfortunate accident and now has a crayfish-like thingy stuck to his helmet and someone was stupid enough to let him slip by the quarantine airlock procedure. Like, sheesh, what happened to all that post 9/11 security, huh? But how about thinking outside the box for a moment, what if they discovered FIRE? Huh? Fire? Aaaaaw yeah! Or they might just have found one or more of the following: Jimmy Hoffa, WMD’s, Oil, Enron files, Any Excuse To Invade Iran, Stolen Election Votes, and/or (but not including) United Airlines Flight 93. I’d like to add Raptor Jesus here too. And the Nonflying Spaghetti Monster. “Sir, we have discovered the meaning of life on Mars. It’s to invade other countries and rob them blind. Keep up the good work, sir!” Or they found Colonel Kurtz and decided it’s time to go home. No no no! They found Mudkipz! And apparently, the Martians love them! Or, keeping up with the times, they simply found the Batcave.

    Just my two cents worth, I’m gonnagonow.

  114. Almost 200 comments on this story and only a handful thoughtful or witty. Hopefully the microbes we’re finding on Mars aren’t more intilligent than us – or they’ll be a giant lander on earth cooking us next time to see if there is organic chemistry here.

    How about nitrogen “fixed” in the soil? Would that suggest plant life?

  115. well i guess a big congradulations is in order to everyone on planet earth –


    no more theories – finally FACT

    the question is what could be a more “provocative” find than water??????

    1) moving ocean under the frozen ice?

    2) traces of bacteria /life forms

    3) present life including bacteria, potential creaures in the sea

    4) evidence of traces of oxygen or other gases needed to create life

    5) artefacts from ancient times.

    ps. mars was built roughly the same time as the planet earth and more likely of the same materials. which means most natural resources found on earth will most likely exist on mars……ie.

  116. Come on guys. It’s about the potential to support life – like others have said. All we have to get up there and we can live there. That is very good news.

    I for one can’t wait to have a drink in Rock Hudson’s ‘special’ space bar.

  117. The fact they went to Bush administration first probably has to do with Protocols that have been in place in NASA for years.

    There are probably certain NASA protocols that require certain discoveries made by NASA to be taken to the Presidential Science Teams.

    Most like it’s nothing that is just real big that it has to be taken to the big man on capitol hill….. but more of a formaility that has to be done because it’s in the books.

    Unless it is something that can cause mass panic on Earth, of which I doubt, the science board will probably just wave it on through and listen to the rest of the science discoveries they are required to listen to for the day.

  118. Considering there are 12 suspected planetary bodies that contain water within our solar system => and ours is 1 of 400 billion within our galaxy => and our galaxy is a grain of sand in comparison to our universe.

    Considering that life can grow thousands of meters below sea level in the deepest parts of our ocean => in pitch darkness => at negative degree temperatures => under numerous ton’s of barometric force

    Uh… we should have listened to those people we dragged away in straight jackets.

  119. A politician skewing science fact? NEVER I SAY! (reference sarcasm in wikipedia).

    Just look at ole’ Al Gore and the rest of the people in DC. Telling us about global warming and apparently the way to solve it is by RAISING TAXES and NEW TAXES.

    Give us money! and the world will be safe!!!

    sounds a lot like Mafia Protection Money. Pay us and you won’t be robbed.

  120. They found the Russians to have been faster again, because in Soviet Russia the Mars lands on YOU!

  121. my guess is oxides indicating that the atmosphere at one point contained a concentration of oxygen significant enough for it to react with other elements on the planet

  122. I remember once reading that scientist believed that long ago someting huge collided with earth, the size of a plant, what if that was mars. Or on the lighter more funnier side they picked up a soil sample of an ancient radioactive UFO Crash, roswell style.

    Theres my two cents. PEACE

  123. We need to declare war on terror microbes at Mars, they are threat to our national security… and by the way there is oil on North and South pole fields, so we are sure some bearded terrorists are hiding on Mars.

  124. You might want to remove IE7,
    it’s causing your OS to fail when you don’t use Firefox

  125. Hmm, this could be anything. Kind of hard to guess. And now that the president is involved, we may never know the truth.

    “Mr. President, an alien came up and waved at our camera.” NOPE! Never would we be allowed to see that! Even the existence of the potential for life on another planet would be enough to scare this administration silly. It is so rooted in ultra Christian conservative values, they might want to squash just about anything along those lines.



    A real scientist is well aware that having the right conditions for life to survive or conditions similar to the conditions which existed on a primitive earth is not the same as finding life actually spontaneously appearing on another planet.

    What is going on here is the logical equivalent someone finding a bottle of ink in a desk drawer and speculating that other drawers probably contain a dozen Shakespearean manuscripts .

  127. I think it is going to be something significant. Like they found the WMD’s or Bin Laden or maybe, could it be? my freakin’ car keys…

  128. They found a clone of Sally Struthers on mars. She asked for donations for starving martian children. They government must suppress this information at all costs or nationwide panic will set in!

  129. Dat’s nacho cheese. Alpha characters-numericals, puh-lease?

  130. Oxygen isotope ratios indicating free-standing water (sea? ocean?) under past atmospheric conditions.

    Big for Mars scientists…and expands possibilities for life in the martian past.

  131. Total Recall the movie actually turned out to be a documentary
    They have the capabilities of activating the core machine which melts the ice on a massive scale creating oxygen for arnold to breathe on mars.
    look it up currently they have the director of total recall briefing the white house on the situation.

  132. Ben Seymour Says:
    August 2nd, 2008 at 2:26 am
    i cannot help but get the sense some big shifts are currently underway, something big happening… mainly why does the vatican feel it has to tell its followers believeing in aliens doesnt contradict their faith? future insurance perhaps? dont wanna get caught with their pants down?
    Again, you mean?

  133. Amazingly, it has been determined that the Martian landscape is composed of the same material as Bush’s brain, this proving that no intelligent life could ever have lived there.

  134. There are many lonely people in this world. That’s why a large news release like this attracts so many comments unrelated to the news release. Shame on us all. We should help these people instead of using it as ammunition to further our own agendas.

    May God be with you.

  135. The reason the Prez is briefed first because of “protocols” says MMH. Close, but not quite it, I say. How about for reasons of Ceremony? Like, the Prez wants to make an all-channels-simulcast announcing this Great Deed (but only if the eggheads are really really sure, damnit!) ?
    hmm, yes?

  136. According to Phoenix itself (or those at NASA who Twitter for it):

    “Heard about the recent news reports implying I may have found Martian life. Those reports are incorrect.”

    “Reports claiming there was a White House briefing are also untrue and incorrect.”

    I would think this warrants an ‘update’ addition to the story (and possibly the headline too)?

  137. My favorites from among the previous posts:
    (1) A coin — Creepy and awesome…;
    (2) Data’s head — LOL! I saw that episode!;
    (3) Decepticon;
    (4) A femur;
    (5) half-buried Statue of Liberty;
    (6) Evidence of a nuclear war;
    (7) Waldo;

    Some of my own ideas:
    (1) Headcrab (from Half Life);
    (2) Neural net processor (made by Cyberdyne);
    (3) A hatch door;
    (4) More books of the Bible (covering Jesus’s visit to Mars before their Armageddon/Revelations time);
    (5) An Imperial space probe;
    (6) Coke bottle (The Gods must be Crazy);
    (7) A giant machine to make air (Total Recall);
    (8) A dwelling with a robot guardian, a hot girl, and a recluse scientist father (Martian Chronicles?);
    (9) Fraggles and dozers;
    (10) A golf ball (hit from our Moon during one of the Moon landings);
    (11) Half a million un-purchased “E.T.” cartridges for the Atari 2600 game console, buried in a shallow ditch;
    (12) The Lost Room;
    (13) A copy of “Duke Nukem Forever”;
    (14) A cockroach;
    (15) A copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy;
    (16) Manbearpig;
    (17) A Tribble;
    (18) A rich deposit of Dilithium;
    (19) A dangerous buildup of Dihydrogen monoxide!

  138. It’s the wreck of some unknown alien spacecraft with hundreds of slimy egg-shaped pods inside.

  139. W is one of the chosen few that understands the importance of exposing fag-enablers and exalting fundamental Christinsanity. Long-live fascism and religious zeal! And flux a bunch of Marzionz,

    /the US constitution is for THOSE loozerz

  140. According to the official Twitter trace this is being “officially denied” as incorrect and untrue.

    I’m disappointed.

  141. Probably nitrates (the “where is the nitrogen?” question) or carbonates – the soil here is alkaline, unlike the acidic soil at the rover sites, acidic soil destroys carbonates, alkaline soil does not – and the carbonates have been a holy grail for a long time. Or maybe, just maybe – but probably not – polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

    Sure are a lot of sophomoric haters on this site!

  142. -stargazerdude22 lighten up a bit. You trying to vie for the title of biggest Geek in this room! Its not all about you. This could be major and people are very excited. Get out of your mom’s basement and sample some herbal remedies available on this planet. Oops humor – my bad !

  143. Joey Said at August 2nd, 2008 at 8:24 am:

    Maybe the bacteria contamination brought in on the lander is growing better than anticipated

    Seems like something that could happen.

  144. It’s not life. We already know there’s water. Must have to do with the amount of water. There’s way more than they ever dreamed?

  145. I think it’s a reincarnation of MegaTron. The movie ended with the good autobots not sure if there were others out there that may attack earth. Only the new movie will tell.

  146. “Your hyperbole example of perceived stupidity of our republican president looks a bit moronic considering the reality of this democratic house representative.”

    Your logic is flawed.

    One person being an idiot doesn’t make another any less of an idiot simply because of party affiliations.

    They’re BOTH idiots.

  147. Ugh Stop Everyone!!!
    I am looking through my telescope at mars and no one is there. Ugh Helloooooooooo! Hollywood has did it to us once again!

    I hate tom cruise!

  148. Wait! Wait! I heard something….I just made CONTACT. It’s probably a Vegan???
    I must go I must go.

  149. It’s HOWARD STERN. They found HOWARD STERN.


  150. You should read ALTERED CARBON by Richard Morgan.
    If you do -and its a great read- you will now be afraid, very afraid!

  151. From Wikipedia:

    “The Viking probes of the mid-1970s carried experiments designed to detect microorganisms in Martian soil at their respective landing sites, and had some apparently positive results, including a temporary increase of CO2 production on exposure to water and nutrients. However this sign of life was later disputed by many scientists, resulting in a continuing debate, with NASA scientist Gilbert Levin asserting that Viking may have found life. A re-analysis of the now 30-year-old Viking data, in light of modern knowledge of extremophile forms of life, has suggested that the Viking tests were also not sophisticated enough to detect these forms of life. The tests may even have killed a (hypothetical) life form”

  152. I think they found something related to the Muslims.

    There are many scientific astronomical discoveries mentioned in their Quran.

  153. What they found on the LOCATION is UNDISCLOSED. Obviously, they do not want bad people to “put two and two together” to know where he will be moved to when s-t hits the fence.

  154. It can only be 2 things. Either there was life on it or
    the red planet is suitable to accept life.

  155. While I find this story to be somewhat interesting, My faith in modern science is rapidly waning. Far too much of today’s “science” is based upon conjecture, presupposition, assumption and, bias rather than truly objective scientific method.
    I do hope we have learned something useful from the red planet.
    I assume those who have chosen this venue to vilify certain politicians, are well acquainted with said politicians and are privy to detailed information regarding their daily duties, private conversations and, perhaps even their thoughts . To spew such vitriol without very intimate knowledge would seem to indicate a psychological problem or a diminished capacity for reason.
    In any case, I look forward to the announcement of the MECA discovery with some degree of anticipation.

  156. Well, maybe just maybe, they found a skeleton of some kind of cearture or Human.

  157. Dear moderator;
    I’d like to see some better editing of the comments here; there is no need for the swearing; let’s try and ENCOURAGE a rational, intelligent conversation; some lively back and forth/give and take, concerning the SCIENCE of what’s going on at Phoenix/Mars, and leave out the childish personal attacks on other commentators …and the Democrats/Republicans/Bush gibberish. This is supposed to be a science blog.

    And leave out the dumb wisecracks about Hoffa, “KOCKS”, oil on Mars, that sort of nonsense.

    C’mon people, if you gotta irrationally sound off go find a Jerry Springer blog (or NewScientist?).

    I think they found evidence that something biological grew as they slowly heated the ice/soil sample… perhaps they are usure if it’s contaminants or localized.

  158. ooooo ooooo aaaaah aaaaaaah. Greetings Earthlings. Soon your banana stocks will be ours. oooo ooooooo aaaah aaaah,

  159. Phoenix isn’t equipped to test for the presence of life, but my guess is that only the discovery of life would provoke this kind of reaction from NASA.

    So the life (if that’s what they’ve found) must be large enough to be seen by the cameras – perhaps they scooped up a Martian bug or plant! That certainly would be exciting.

    For this primitive life form to survive, it would need be buried in the sand, oblivious to its surroundings and living a vegetative, parasitic existence while at the same time being totally incapable of communicating at even the most rudimentary level.

    This is why they told Bush first. He’s one of them.

  160. I am surprised that “The Blob” has not yet been mentioned. The discovery is that a flesh eating “blob” exists on Mars. It has been theorized that this blob wiped out all life millions of years ago. The blob is greenish in color but defecates red, hence the red martian soil.

  161. Folks, this is Internet urban-rumoring run amok. Here it is, straight from the Phoenix team’s twitter:

    From MarsPhoenix twitter:

    Heard about the recent news reports implying I may have found Martian life. Those reports are incorrect.

    Reports claiming there was a White House briefing are also untrue and incorrect.

  162. boo… briefing is a hoax, eh?

    perhaps then the discovery is the isotopic ratio of the H2O?

  163. Uh guys, has anyone noticed that little rock by the lander leg that seems to be at the end of a curve towards the scoop on the left.

    Kind of looks like it’s well…. moving, eh?

  164. They found a small paper note on Mars:

    Better not tell the tax payers, that we are short of money and short of ideas to keep up the hoax of life on mars.

  165. water on mars? life on mars? NASA is the last to know about it! its there eversince.

  166. @the people annoyed at the jokers.

    Dudes, face it: this kind of announcements that “something big” yadda yadda, and the “white house was briefed” yadda yadda, is simply asking to be made fun of. Come on. If there is indeed some major discovery on the pipes, and this is already a big if, the only thing they should have done is to state what it is instead of playing this childish game of “I know something but I won’t tell ya, dadadadadaaada”. This kind of “announcement” that doesn’t announce anything is ridiculous. Of course everybody is cracking jokes. And the jokes will continue to get cracked until it is known what, if anything, was discovered.

    Speculations are futile (and no, you’re not going to be assimilated)

  167. The earlier poster was correct. We indeed did come from Mars long ago.

    As far as the discovery goes, I think they found a spork.

  168. you know the lies the americans made to justify the war in Irak and Afganistan.

    Now they need to get the country excited on a project like this. Remeber how the moon exploration helped their economy in the 60s/70s?

    They really just need something to play with for a few years, plus whatever they announce will be really hard to check in the short term …

    Otherwise I love capitalism, really!

  169. Best plausable guesses from the list and my own guesses though we will never know for sure, even if they do tell us the truth because it went through Bush first:
    – Life or something related
    – A mistake (somebody started a rumor)
    – Uranium or something else very valuable
    – Something energy related (to power future missions)

    My best hope is that someone posts the real (even verbally propagated) info to Wikileaks.

    Surely you know not to believe anything that goes through Bush first. That’s not important right now and don’t call me Sherly.

  170. It really does depress me that the broader scientific community is so narrowly educated that they remain so intolerably left wing. For crying out loud guys, are all the Bush jokes really necessary ? All those amongst you questioning the intellect of the administration, are you unaware they count a child prodigy amongst their number?

    I await with great anticipation to see what this discovery is. Perhaps while you guys are waiting you could read a history book?

  171. @Mathmo:

    Normally I’d agree that childish president bashing is stupid….but its Bush. I’m a long long time conservative republican and at this point Bush can go f*ck himself. Worst president ever.

    I say let the jokes keep coming. The jackass deserves to be the butt of every joke possible. I’ll stop myself there because political rants are pointless…but seriously…screw that guy.

  172. i believe that, if nasa felt compelled to brief the president of usa and supreme comander of the armed forces then the news are not good ,extremly dangerous ,and surely worrysome for humanity .

  173. The political hocus pokus is disgusting. It was the average American taxpayer that paid for the probe, those guys who sit with their bottled water staring blankly into the computer screen… and whatever information that finally comes home. Resident Bush barely rates mention here.

    Personally, I think that if life were to be found on Mars or Europa… or most anywhere else that ain’t already been polluted and corrupted, it would likely be kept quiet for national security purposes.

  174. Contamination is a major worry. The Apollo samples were contaminated befor they arrived in the lab here. The probability of samples on Mars being contaminated in situ is also HIGH. There’s probably a green lawn around the lander by now.

  175. I bet they’ve finally found Osama Bin Laden! No wonder They just can’t find him on Earth!!!

  176. I thinks, when they went back to look at previous samples (to check results) , the samples had changed in composition……they actually “captured” living things in the samples. Microbes RULE!!

  177. The answer is painfully OBVIOUS !!!

    NASA has confirmed that the water on Mars is heavy.

    Loaded with deuterium and tritium !!

    This means it will be easy to produce fusion power on the moon, a veritable planet of nearly infinite power, but drinking water will need to be treated before it can be consumed.

  178. I’d hate to be the scientist they send to explain it to bush… “umm… no Mr. President… Mars is not a small town in France!”

    Maybe they found a small sign that says: “Made in China”…

  179. While I will admit that I have found the first hundred or so responses to this topic to be “entertaining”, to speculate on a situation such as this is simply akin to talking about how one is going to spend their lottery winnings simply because they bought a ticket. We shall see what we shall see and nothing more.

    With that said, I would add that I do find it quite disturbing that the white house was informed before anything was released to the general public, regardless of the reasoning. Jokes about Mr. Bush aside (as much as they are certainly warrented), despite a few bold words a couple of years back, this administration has repeatedly proven it’s lack of dedication to science and particularly to space science by cutting funding over and over again. I don’t think it’s terribly subjective to say that the Bush administration has conclusively proven that it’s more dedicated to acts of war than it is to any concepts of “peace”, let alone ideas of space exploration. Look at the numbers…military spending has gone thru the roof during Bush’s reign of terror while funding for scientific exploration has been repeatedly thwarted. One really must wonder what’s the point of reporting -any- scientific finding to an administration who’s proven many times over that science is last thing that they actually care about?

    Mr. Bush and those who follow him have clearly shown that the path to scientific exploration and discovery certainly lies outside the confines of greedy and ignorant politicians. By presenting these findings to the white house first, the door to censorship has been opened. Bush and his administration HAVE violated the concept of “freedom of speech” and “freedom of the press” in the past and I think it’s not only wrong, but quite dangerous to give this administration the opportunity to do it again with something that has the potential to significantly impact the world as we know it.

    This “discovery” may or may not be news that changes our world…we won’t know until it’s actually released, but as with the soil samples that Phoenix is examing, this informtion will serve humanity best if it comes to us “uncontaminated” by the likes of our currant administration.

  180. They’ve found that the mission is inconclusive, asked Bush for more fund to send another probe.

  181. I just hope were not getting excited over something benign…

    Yeah, I’m holding out for something malevolent. 😉

  182. I found that the last big announcement from NASA about the discovery of the youngest supernova to date to be a bit anticlimactic…important…but not Earth-shattering, not profound.

    I do not think this announcement will be that far up the ladder than that.

    I think it will be a reiteration of the fact that water indeed exist on Mars, as well as other building blocks of life. Phoenix has no method of imaging microbes. All we will really discover is what we supposed were there already…conditions on Mars were / are favorable to support life.

  183. NASA scientists have found an incredibly b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l rock that jeopardizes the primary objectives of the mission. Disagreement among scientists has reached a critical point. Blistering, they have stormed Mr. Bush’s office to inform him that they do not want to work with each other anymore.

  184. The announcement will be a further refinement of what was previously implied about Mars; The Martian Environment can support life.

    What makes this slightly more special and hence why NASA is taking more time is they want to say while we have no evidence of bacterial life yet we categorically say that Mars can support life.

    This is proven as the conditions are no different than certain areas on earth where bacterial surivive. If you were to take these Earthborne bacteria and place them in the regolith where Phoenix landed they would survive and flourish.

  185. It is possible the Phoenix Lander has detection what are known as Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons or PAHs in the martian ice. It is interesting to note that this would lend support to the detection of carbonate minerals and PAHs in the martian meteorite ALH84001.

    It is possible the Phoenix Lander has detected what are known as Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons or PAHs in the martian ice. It is interesting to note that this would lend support to the detection of carbonate minerals and PAHs in the martian meteorite ALH84001.

  187. Oh Marty is just mad that I laughed at him and told him the truth. He is hung like a mosquito and is as fun and useful in the sack as a corpse. He is also really scared that what they found are the missing military records that prove beyond a doubt that Dubya is an AWOL coward commanding real menses. I mean what more shame is there than your CIA spook Daddy buying your way past a 7 year waiting list to avoid a good tour in `Nam only to have you run away scared from *that* to get drunk and snort cocaine all the time!

    I love stargazerdude22 so don’t be so mean to him! He is just wrestling with some of the difficult problems like the ones listed above. Also more like his precious Republicans are also fags but hate fags, LOL. Not to mention selective brandishing of pieces of the bible makes you a hypocrite and self proclaimed deity. He is also kind of burned to learn the facts that the bible is a bunch of fictional stories hand selected by a group of gay old men with lubricated alter boys who hide the other fictional stories but proclaim their selections as the word of a god for others to further hand select from.

    Everybody knows the real God is buried deep on Mars!

    I will give stargazerdude22 a thick long reason to settle down so ya`all can get back to fun talk. 😉

    Peace and SanFran power lovers!

  188. FWIW, the official NASA party line says that this meeting has never happened.

    Sad, I had hoped The Universe Today would be more skeptical and careful to check facts in its treatment of news stories. The AstronomyCast always seems to be on the ball, but it only covers well-known territory, however, so I suppose it is understandable.

  189. I am extremely disappointed in the level of discussion. Guys, please stick to the science discussion. The jokes are sophomoric at best, are not funny, and detract us from the issue at hand. Whatever the announcement is, I hope it is a huge one that has far reaching implications for humanity. If you want to make political statements, go to a political site and make your statements there.

  190. Its not gonna be that big, most likely its just some germs on Mars. Big deal we have germs on our moon.

  191. My guess: CO2 and water resulted from baking a soil sample in oxygen indicating an unexpectedly high quantity of organic substances. This would be a crude indication for the possibility of life, either fossil or living, but is a far cry from an out and out discovery. Do I get a gold star if I’m correct?

  192. Is Phoenix equipped to determine if it finds biological material that’s shared by earth pointing to a common ‘seeding’ of Earth and Mars?

  193. The article/release calls it more provocative than the presence of surface water. It also calls it NOT an indication of life, past or present. It also calls it HUGE.

    Folks, this rules out speculating about microbes, macroscopic life forms, fossils, spores, and the likes.

    It all seems to come to light in conjunction with the definitive proof that the wet stuff which sometimes freezes (…and about which we have known and speculated for a while) IS actually water.

    Can the little lab distinguish between H2O and D2O? I would find it quite provocative if it turned out that the proportions of H2O to D2O on Mars are very different from those found in water on Earth, or in water from Comets… just different, no explanation, but unexpected… posing many new questions without answering any of the old ones.

    They could have found traces of Ammonia or CO2 in the water, indicating possible volcanic origin, but would we call this “provocative”?

    Now, if they had traced the source of that water to a plastic bottle with a loose cap, that would be a different story….

    btw: I believe that all throughout the Universe, under similar conditions, we, or our descendants, will discover similar chemistry and biology. That’s the way how Science and Nature work. If the conditions are ok for extremophile life to exist on Mars, then it’ll be almost certainly there… and it’ll be pretty much indistinguishable from life under similar conditions on Earth.

  194. Ooops – I meant races of Sulfite, not Ammonia… I must have “life forms” on my mind…

  195. Funny, no news media or anybody else for that matter seems to have called the White House to confirm. So it’s probably all a crock that somebody made up on a slow news day. Guess all you speculators ought to get a life.

  196. My guess is that they have discovered “synthetic” elements in the soil indicating that they have natural isotopes. Or an abundance of REE nothing to do with life but major in a different way.

  197. Mr. President, we found some sort of tag on Mars… !!!

    “What does it say??”


  198. My guess is a fossil of some sort, probably of a bacteria-like form, or maybe even a primitive single celled creature.

  199. The invasion of Canada is off – there was a trace of DNA that suggests Bin Laden is holed up somewhere in a series of craters nearby.

    They’re working on an appropriations bill to fund an invasion of Mars to bring Bin Laden to justice. Got to keep those rocket guys in Houston employed after the election…

    BTW: we American Taxpayers didn’t just pay for the probe: we pay for the entire friggin’ GOVERNMENT! Give me some disclosure on that pile of fecal rubbish first and then we may properly discuss whether fish bait can grow on Mars.

  200. It is ironic to have to report to the village idiot with the room temperature IQ in the OFAL office!

  201. It is hard to believe that on a planet -Mars-containing water (more than we see at the present) the life did not appear at all for the last 4 billions years.
    Also I’m pretty sure that the “huge anouncement”, more that the discovery of the water/ice itself is regarding the presence of life itself at a very rudimentary/elementary levels, organisms of some kind.
    This will require indeed breefing the White House, because, suddenly, Mars will get a different clasiffication and the priorities regarding the Red planet will change dramatically. Will be THE FIRST planet in the known Universe, appart of Earth, proved to have life on it. This will imply a new approach of furture Mars exploration which besides problems regarding contamination will also open new science Horizons like the “terraformation” other very interesting things. Maybe just know the term of “space turism” will start to gain weight and substance.

  202. There is nothing interesting to the AVERAGE person about microbes being discovered in the universe. Most people already believe in ETs. So finding microbes or microbe leftovers is boring.

    We have no data, thus wild stupid speculation abounds. Asking for comments in the almost total absence of any real data is pointless.

    This is why we must all focus on my PENE GRANDE.

    Worship the koooooock.

  203. Ever hear of the Brookings report? Read the Wikipedia article if you haven’t.

    The secrecy is probably valuable to double-check evidence, but if there is compelling evidence of amino acids, etc. then the report (which is quite compelling, read it if you have the time) suggests some end-state scenarios which could lead to the destruction of society as we know it. Very much worth thinking about. Naturally, the warning only implies what would occur if the encountered alien species was more advanced than ours…unlikely to be found in a pile of amino acids. 🙂

  204. It’s ridiculous how they beat about the bush about some potential fossilzed bacteria or whatever on another planet.
    Are they afraid their Religions and Jesus-Feary tales are going to collapse over this or the stockmarket will go down ?

  205. maybe more carbonates. or maybe an amino acid strand or two or maybe something else organic. but not life. they already said it wasn’t ‘life’ or direct evidence of past life. Then again, interior cranial residue of some terrestrials closely resembling aforementioned bovine excrement.

  206. Fuhrer Bush and his Reichstags happen to be very fond of primitive superstitions and fairy tales and cocaine and alcohol and genocide as well as general murder and robbery.

    The stock market is a joke controlled by international banking cartels anyway, it is just a control mechanism for their cattle.

    The only thing that collapsed was stargazerdude22. 😉 <3

  207. dickgazerdude22 ,
    I assume you are a Discordian Pope.
    I hereby sent you to Mars and collect all the Martian Rats.
    Hail Eris!

  208. It’s obvious from reading these posts that everyone hates that SOB jorge lyin’ MF Bush, his “administration,” and the fact that he has turned our great country into a fascist regime that buries science, manipulates the EPA, etc. WHY IN THE FCK IS HE NOT IN PRISON????? WHY IS THE LEGISLATIVE AND JUDICIAL BRANCH ALLOWING THIS BS?

    That being said, I think they found a dead mouse, possibly a small shrew.

  209. You know, I wonder if this is still an astonomy site or just another “I hate America/NASA/George Bush site. Keep the damn politics and your hatreds to yourself.

  210. Yeah sure the twitter feed will say the reports are not true. Did you expect them to tell it’s true when they want to hide the info for the public? What we do no with the response on twitter is that we will get no info whatsoever of what phoenix has found.

  211. Allow me to repeat myself here: If there is indeed some major discovery on the pipes, and this is already a big if, the only thing they should have done is to state what it is instead of playing this childish game of “I know something but I won’t tell ya, dadadadadaaada”. This kind of “announcement” that doesn’t announce anything is ridiculous.

    To this I’ll add:

    And not only ridiculous; it is in fact harmful, for the only people it actually feeds are the nutty conspiracy theorists.

    So joke away, folks! Sophomoric or not, a flood of jokes is all the answer this thing really deserves.

    (I happen to know exactly what Phoenix found: the cracker PZ Meyers desecrated. It was teleported to Mars by godallmighty in an attempt to preserve the evidence for the trial at doomsday, godallmighty managed to murk everything, however, and placed it squarely inside TEGA’s oven #6)

  212. Peace is war.
    War is peace.
    Intelligence is stupidity.
    Stupidity is Intelligence.
    Happiness is obedience.
    Obedience is happiness.
    To question is anti-patriotic.
    Anti-patriotic ask questions.

    Do not question the Party brothers and sisters.

    Be happy.
    Be Intelligent.
    Support peace.

  213. Stages of NASA. It’s a matter of time before more exciting news comes from them.

    This website has been investigating Mars for years before NASA really looked at their data. Maybe NASA finally got to visiting ‘

  214. Save you guys some work this is what they’ve found on Mars.

    They found a coin.
    Perhaps they found a dead mouse.
    Now how did Saddam hide his WMDs all the way up there?
    Mars needs women!
    yeti tracks, Jimmy Hoffa and Nessie all caught on camera at tea time.
    History of a failed civilization which made drugs illegal and since the people couldn’t smoke marijuana legally, they died of agony due to unhappiness and loss of freedom.
    They will discover that the lunar landing was actually filmed on Mars
    maybe they found a fossil
    China’s flag.
    They finally found Osama Bin Hiding, and he’s on MARS!!
    The tip of an ancient missile poking out of the soil…
    a monolith with a very special ratio.
    all your findings are belong to mars
    They found replicators….
    I heard they found a used condom.
    they found a starbucks…soon to be closed.
    It can’t be anything other than the solution to pi.
    3rd gen iphone?
    great, now they can send me to Mars to colonate a peaceful species.
    maybe they found they could boil an egg faster on mars.
    “It’s full of stars!”
    the statue of liberty buried in the sand…
    Elvis is alive and living in Mars.
    Evidence of an intelligent life
    Steve Fossett waving to us
    it’s life, but not as we know it
    They found a note saying:”Chuck Norris was here” There’s one on every planet…
    Found a peanut, found a peanut,
    Found a peanut just now,
    Just now I found a peanut,
    Found a peanut just now.
    They found something that wasn’t really lost.
    They’ve found a Y chromosome.Men really ARE from Mars!
    The surface of the planet is made of cocaine. They’re sending the President up with a straw.
    ooooo ooooo aaaaah aaaaaaah. Greetings Earthlings. Soon your banana stocks will be ours. oooo ooooooo aaaah aaaah,

    Hope that clears it up.

  215. In the movie “The day after tomorrow” where Earth freezes over they were walking along and fell through the skylight over a mall. Guess what saw when the ice was scraped away?

  216. They must have found Calvin’s candy bar wrapper. Or the tracks from his wagon.

  217. They found these little tiny aliens in the scoop.

    They keep knocking on the cammera lense !

    Hello !! Is anyone home ???

    We are looking work, we would LOVE to work for you !!!

    NASA and the President have decided to sterilize the Earth and use these little people to start over again.

  218. Howdy folks. While I am glad the subject has conjured such interest, it’s time to bring an end to the speculation. My flux capacitor was found on Mars. NASA was kind enough to return it after sampling the debris. It has been restored to the DMC12 and is churning out a whopping 1.21 jigawatts!!! thnx nasa, xoxo. -doc

  219. Oh please. All you bleeding heart liberals here. Leave Bush alone for once. I know it’s the “cool” thing to do, but come on… give it a rest already.

    I agree with some above posters. It is probably some mineral or maybe a microbe.

  220. If they found a LightSaber, it’s mine! it was a gift from my father!!!.

    now seriously, compounds or molecules needed to form DNA is much more feasible.

  221. The ongoing experiment uses water, methane, ammonia, and hydrogen, all of which are sealed inside test tubes and flasks connected in a loop system. The water is heated to produce evaporation, lightning is simulated, and then the internal atmosphere is allowed to cool so that water could condense and flow back into the flask in a continuous cycle. We can observe that 10 to 15% of the system’s carbon was in the form of organic compounds, and 2% of the carbon had formed amino acids – considered to be the building blocks of life. Although only simple organic molecules were produced, the results of this experiment established that the hypothetical processes of primitive Earth could produce the building blocks of life on Mars, without requiring life to synthesize them first. Thus we need a bit more time to receive the full block of Data.

  222. Another aspect is when the temperature of the furnace increases up to 1000°C (1800°F), the ice and other volatile materials in the sample are vaporized into a stream of gases. These are called evolved gases and are transported via an inert carrier to a mass spectrometer, a device used to measure the mass and concentrations of specific molecules and atoms in a sample. The mass spectrometer is sensitive to detection levels down to 10 parts per billion, a level that may detect minute quantities of organic molecules potentially existing in the ice and soil.

    Once these precise measurement capabilities are completed, We will be able to determine ratios of various isotopes of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen, providing clues to origin of the volatile molecules, and biological processes that occurred in the past, that so far indicates this.

  223. Full disclouser might be, large primative Monogens(worms). Doubtful that they would give us that much info without several smaller trivial data bits and I mean NANO BITS! Could be that they start with something like extinct diatoms……We’ll see…
    Try not to be too disapointed

  224. So they’ve told Bush that there was potentially life on Marse once upon a time what’s he going to do scratch his head and have a banana?

  225. We will find out that they, found a weed plant. also known as Hemp or Marijuana with enlightenment inducing levels of THC….

  226. Advance the programme, get more funding – tell Congress those Damned Martians have weapons of Mass Destruction. And they’re REDS!!!

  227. or need new planet to live. Niburu the 13. planet soon here in 2012. by Maya calendar will end of life on this little planet. That`s why the NASA take out from service- 2010 -the space shuttles to rebuild them and be ready to fly when the time is came…….
    So get your last cigar , just have rest and countdown…

  228. NASA has discovered that Mars lacks fertile soil. With the abundance of bullsh*t available from the Bush Administration America will one day be able to terraform the planet using some of this ample Bushit® and turn Mars into a secret prison for future Bush administrations to work their ‘magic’.

  229. Maybe They Have found Chemicals That Indicate That Life May Have Once Lived There, Or A Mars Bar !

  230. they found another spot that was ear marked for monika lewinski’s dress. They’re just letting Bush know. He’s so proud of his little Billy boy.

  231. People it is a “fake” move along now please nothing to see hear.

    And to be honest after reading this thread it’s outlandishly unintelligent replies and poor moderation, let this be a lesson Fraser never try to brake a lead that is to good to be true becuase it usually is not true nor good.

    and you could do without the army of the paraniod posting & twisting everything into a political rant based on limtied knowledge and poor reasoning.

  232. Either they found the secret of the ooze: and they need to bring some back so I can pour it on a turtle.

    or .. its frozen ants. could be a turd too .. frozen in space turd fallen to mars…with corn chunks in it.

  233. Comon people.. it doesnt matter .. their not gonna tell you what they really found even if it is something that is major.. geat real! If their keeping it under wraps now why will they un-wrap it later?

  234. The reason thet they are not releasing the information to the public, is because they want to make sure they get it right.

    Accuracy is everything.

    If they announced to the world that life has been found, or something similar in importance, only to retract their findings after later re-examinations, then NASA would lose face, and their credibility would be GONE.

    NASA is talking to the White House because it’s obviously an important discovery, and we might even get the public announcement from the President himself.

    There is no conspiracy here. They are just following protocol and being careful to get their facts strait. Is that so wrong?

  235. To Alexander,
    I had the same concern about 200 posts ago. However I see Emily Lakdawalla has written about it at last. She says she has no other information beyond the Aviation Week story. See

    Also well said about the shocking intellectual impoverishment evident in most of the replies, especially as Fraser and Pamela work so hard to educate us on this stuff.

  236. To Chris
    I have it on the very best authority; there is no story here and no announcement which needed a white house rubber stamp.

    But even so Fraser needs to moderate this, if you put dig / reddit / stummbleupon and look to invite a wider audience to the party, then you better have a good doorman or this place will be sucked into the vast pile of detritus that is the net.

    To Fraser
    My advice to you Mr Cain is only run stories with valid substantiated sources and stay clear of sensationalising your topic titles which in this case has been the cause of this nasty boil on an otherwise beautifully factual site.

    Fraser you do a excellent job spreading knowledge and adding wisdom to an environment full of sophistry the likes of which god weeps at, again we thank you for your first class efforts but it should always be about the quality of the discussion not the volume of traffic generated by a topic.

  237. —————————————————-
    “Jerry Says:
    August 2nd, 2008 at 8:13 am

    Press Conference Begins

    “Yeah, so we were digging around in the dirt on Mars looking for water and, um, we dug up a couple worms.”

    “Worms? You called a press conference because you dug up a worm?””.

    If there’s worms there’s bound to be fish, so the real question is who gets the franchising rights.
    To sort out the possible (real) discoveries, we need to look at what chemistries the analyzer is capable of performing. There are likely only a handful that could be strong indicators of life on Mars. To “sit” on the data, it would need to be sufficiently noteworthy and hence relatively only a few possibilities.

  238. I hate to get over confident whenever NASA does this, because often times it tends to be a, “you made us wait for this?” sort of reaction; about something not so extra-ordinary.

    However, in December 2006 a new National Aeronautics Research and Development policy was put into place, which does outline certain things this may apply to.

    One being a finding where certain details are released carefully (if at all) in order to maintain American supremacy/dominance in areas deemed necessary. Think of it as some sort of whacky space patent on knowledge, and the US doesn’t really want to share everything right now.

    So it could be a matter of what to share, how much, how to etc. So when this is finally released, don’t be shocked if there is a lot more to it than is originally shared. Especially if it is really big.

    If you find “Gold”; you don’t want everyone else to set up a claim and prospect it before you do.

  239. Gone are the days I recommend this website to anyone interested in astronomy.

    Perhaps we should add the link to Comedy Central, The Funny Bone and Laff Trak web sites.

  240. Funny they all of a sudden found water on Mars. What else are they gonna surprise us with. The government has known this for a while. I wouldn’t put it pass the govenment that they have been on Mars for a while doing a lot of testing. Maybe they have space center there already.

  241. The white house was informed weeks before the announcement so they would have plenty of time to deny whatever the announcement was before they sign on three weeks after everybody else is already in the know. Probably should’ve given them another week or two to allow for head scratching and quizzical looks

  242. How about the remote finding a pottery shard?

    A pottery shard would kill the little gray men alien theory and still allow for ‘something provocative’. It might run the chance of turning modern archeology on it’s head, though, if it were similar to something here on Earth.

  243. For the first time ever (as far as I have ever seen), this website was blocked by NetNanny. I am very disappointed by this development. This was a site I felt it was OK to send my kids to, to learn about astronomy. I hope this gets fixed soon.

  244. Nice!

    I hope they weren’t too detailed. We’re talking about Bush here. It’s essential that he takes baby steps or stay out of it completely.


  246. The announcement will probably be ‘Mission Accomplished’ live from an aircraft carrier that was secretly deployed to Mars…

  247. of course the white house is going to be breifed on the potential for life to be on mars, Bush has trumpted the expanded man missions for a while and if the soil content there is more “earth like” than expected then that speaks directly to the mission viability. What may be significant news to geologists and planetary scientists may not be big news to fox or CNN so we should remember that. If anything it is more than likely a discovery that the results of the second wet-chem test indicate that the mars we see now used to be much more like the earth we all know, and that would have MAJOR impact on the future of manned missions to such far reaching location.

  248. – it’s really ashame that so many obscene comments have been permitted. It’s also ashame that many of the comments are pointless one-liners, but I suppose there is nothing to be done about that. It’s really hard to explain why people chose this story to become a blogs version of a mob scene. Mankind does have a more uplifted side.

  249. or a message draw with stick in the martian soil:

    “Make awkward sexual advances, not war”

  250. Maybe they’ve found abnormal amounts of radiation or a chemical compound beneath the soil. Perhaps they’ve found a new element like nothing seen on Earth before. It’s not really that hard to imagine to be honest.

    Maybe they found a body frozen in ice on Mars as well? Think about it. Would you want to go telling everyone if it could possible be a human like creature, and then realise that it’s only rock or soil frozen in that shape instead?

  251. TD
    The obscenity is more with such an unsubstantiated rumour of gossip like this media-driven story.
    The fact is that no amount of hearsay about some presumed story matters a hill of beans unless the information is based on fact and verifiable truth. We might as well be reading stories of Paris Hilton, Lynsay Lohan, or of the exploits of the dear departed Princess Diana before anything in this article matters.
    I notice there have been 165,754 view of this page, which shows the state of humanity – when idle speculation clearly rules over common sense. Intelligent life on Earth – makes you surely want to question it, don’t you think?.
    Still, I wait for the facts to be announced before I’ll make my comment on the issue. If, as it is likely, this announcement is a lame as I expect, only then I will then state my considered.
    (Can’t wait till after the “miraculous” answer that will change my life and history as we know it! I just hope it makes someone smile – because something needs to cheer us up the way things are currently going.

  252. I’m sure they will announce the finding of something as earth-shattering as simple amino acids or something. Yawn. While we spend billions and billions to dig around in lifeless dirt, we don’t give a ***’ @$$ about the hundreds of species of actual – uuumm – LIFE that go extinct each day on this planet. Disgusting.

  253. Hmm, now all this meeting with the White House news is being denied. Hmmm, that didn’t take long. However if direct evidence of life was found does anyone seriously think it would get into the public knowledge? I certianly hope nobody is that asleep…

  254. I know, I know… they’ve discovered Al Gore on mars driving around in his SUV causing the martian polar ice caps to melt due to martian warming… I mean, what else could cause such a thing?

    The sun?


  255. As I expected, this was much ado about nothing. They just found perchlorate. Percholrate, for Pete’s sake! A CO4 ion in a planet with a CO2 atmosphere. Wow! What a void!

    These excited announcements about nearly irrelevant thingies are making a HUGE disservice to space exploration as a whole, that’s all I’ll say about this.

    (Time to stop joking, folks. The taboo has been lifted)

  256. Er… one “minor” mistake in the above comment: it’s ClO4, not CO4. Nothing to do with carbon dioxide.

    Oopsie toopsie.

    Anyway, people, it’s far from “huge”. This only means, if confirmed, that there’s an oxidizing molecule around. Or may be, since there are two instruments with contradicting results. This whole thing is a complete blooper.

  257. before the summer is over, why don’t they just plant a tomatoe seed in the soil and water it;

    see if the seed “pops” and the embyronic stem emerges.

    why are they so concerned about “our” microbes infecting their results/

    if the planet can’t support ‘our” microbes then we skip it and find another planet or moon that will.

    why are they not trying to plant something?

    stop being scientists and be farmers instead; we to know if a seed (try many types) can germinate in that soil during the summer months..this will help understand its amino acid and nitrogen levels.

  258. I think it’s the potential for no life o be able to live in the soil. Just the typical sign error that happens every once in a while.

  259. Fraser;
    This story got you a lot of reads and comments, last count 420, which is great for you guys because you have an interesting and informative website… but you really should consider the need to more closely moderate to screen out the loonies and people making personal attacks on other commentators, politicians, etc.

    Libertarian that I am, believe me, I understand and fully appreciate freedom of speech. But not here; it’s just not applicable. This is YOUR column; YOU own it and YOU set the standards and enforce them.

    Can we try and raise the bar a bit? Think of new visitors to this site, or younger kids. What would their impressions be?

    How about we all put it to a vote?
    YES, Fraser moderates comments.
    NO, anything goes.

  260. YES: Moderation please.

    And I am sure there would be a few regulars debaters who would not mind helping out, It has got to be done or this website will end up on the blocked list of far to many filters

  261. They found static – but it was suppose to be 5 seconds of static and it turned out to be EIGHT HOURS!

    I miss you, Carl!

  262. when I was a teenager I had a friend whose father worked for NASA. I learned about 2 years before the press did that they had supposedly found bacteria in a martian rock found in antarctica or something…. anyhow, even though they waited all that time to release the news, it still turned out to be bunk. hold your horses kiddos…

  263. I totally agree with the person who suggested that we just start planting things. Why not?

    We haven’t observed any obvious evidence of life on Mars thus far. How much longer will we continue to entertain the possibility of evidence of past or present life on Mars?

    And what is the value of discovering past or present life on Mars? If we discover evidence of past or present life on Mars, what is the significance? Is the only value to say: “See, life is more likely to spontaneously arise that we previously thought!”? Or is the biggest benefit to see how an independent biological evolution proceeded, so we can contrast it with our own?

    I think we should not let further inquiry in to the possibility of indigenous life on Mars block a new phase of humanity’s relationship to Mars. I think we should wholesale consider it desert real estate for use by any humans willing to take advantage of it — subject to environmental considerations to prevent sabotaging the goals of other human enterprises on Mars.

    So, I say, start planting seeds of all kinds, and dumping bacteria, etc, anything to see what survives or thrives. Try to alter the atmosphere in ways that seem beneficial.

    One interesting possibility, probably more practical for the Moon than for Mars, is to move some kinds of industrial manufacturing away from the Earth. All of the industrial pollution in, for example, China, could be eliminated. Also, nuclear power plants could be constructed on the Moon. The Moon has the benefits of being close to Earth and having a low gravity (making shipping manufactured goods back to Earth less costly, because escape velocity and overall travel distance would be less).

    Anyhow, I agree that trying to determine if a form of life once existed or currently exists on Mars was a worthwhile pursuit. I think finding life, and then studying it, would be fascinating, and would have some philosophical value and some practical value (possible new medical or pharmacological applications, much like finding interesting new molecules in rare rain forest plant species). However, we didn’t find any strong evidence of past or present life on Mars, yet — but, if you take Earth as an example, you can’t inspect any clump of dirt whatsoever here without finding evidence of life; any life, or products of living organisms, spreads like crazy, and this suggests that Mars never had life. Therefore, I think we should not let our curiosity about whether or not there was ever life on Mars forever block us from simply accepting that we haven’t been able to find any strong evidence, and shouldn’t block us from going ahead with projects that would “contaminate” Mars with biological material.

    It’s time to start farming on Mars! Who’s with me?!

  264. This is what probably happened:

    They have video footage of another robotic device walking up and sniffing our lander’s butt.

  265. You have to love the cut and pasters who try to be smarter than everyone else. A quick second check, and they figure out there is a difference between perchlorate and carbonate. 🙂

  266. Most of you people are strange …
    I just think it’s wicked that we can send a probe to another planet, have it almost break, get it working, find water, determine the top layer is ‘soil’, then to find something more .. come on … that’s just cool … !

  267. Sad even after knowing this story is totally 100% fake for at least 24 hrs it is still online poor show indeed universe today team..

  268. Yeah, aodhhan, I deserved that. The mistake was… well… stupid. I had to be half asleep to write as if perchlorate had no chlorine. One tenth of a working brain would have noticed something had to be wrong there. Even if chemistry isn’t one of one’s strongest areas.

    Oh, well, sometimes the gray stuff does shut down. In some folks that’s a permanent condition. In others it’s just for a while.

    Which is my group? Check my other comments and find out. 😉

  269. I hope its a joke, tell me you dont want to pollute the other planet as we did on earth?? hey aliens, stop the humans!

  270. “Discuss the results with the Bush administration!” Just what the public needs. More white house BS. What in gawds name is going on? Why the secrecy? It doesn’t make sense. DAMN! I forgot for a moment. We’re talking about the Bush administration. Regrets for wasting your read time.

  271. although I believe twitter (although conspiracy theory: why not shut down the influx of @ replies questioning the story by a simple statement. Problem is I didn’t know about all this until I investigated that tweet!!), chances are the president always gets some day-by-day debriefing of what NASA does each day if it’s interesting or not. Normally in memo form, other times… not.

    If they did find anything it’s probably some acid that kills normal life or something. so a big brouhaha over nothing. my theory.

    Hmmm… seems appropriate to add a joke it seems by the previous million postings…

    TOONS ARE REAL! They found Mickey Mouse waving at the camera & now Disney’s suing for copyright!!

  272. Total Recall – maybe they found an ancient alien artifact, not life from Mars, but from visiting aliens. That would be the best. 🙂

    I have always wondered if trying to terraform Mars would work. Would the atmosphere hold?

    From a google search:
    Some experts say that Mars, only half the size of Earth, has insufficient gravity to hold an atmosphere. It would slowly bleed into space. This, they say, happened in the past, and in the future would probably doom any attempt at setting up a newatmosphere on the planet.

    But Dr. McKay of NASA Ames said the consensus among his colleagues was that the gravity issue was a false worry.

    “It’s a common misconception,” he said in an interview. “The old atmosphere is probably bound in the soil.”

    …Well, then maybe they found mars once had an oxygen rich atmosphere?

  273. 434 comments????… I gotta be part of this!…. Umm…. Well….. Shoot!!.. I can’t think of anything clever or profound to say.. 🙁

  274. THIS IS IT . . . They’ve found a ring pull left there by a terrorist so they’re going to have to declare martial law and cancel the upcoming election. This is much too important to trust to an inexperienced new administration.

  275. JohnP –
    Wow!.. I’m guessing that you aren’t an American. 🙂 That kind of s**t doesn’t happen here.. And it won’t….
    A lot of you want to bring politics into this. NASA, not knowing (for the moment) what is going on on Mars seems to be an excuse for the Bush haters…., a catalyst. Some of you seem angry because his administration freed a country from tyranny and allowed Democracy to grow…… You are angry because we took out a dictator? I know, I know.. Before you start screaming at me, I know… “It is all about oil!”.. Yes, I know.. Myself, personally, I think it is about reconstruction contracts (Halliburton),,,,,But whatever the motive, the final objective is what any true freedom loving people would want. When was the last time a true democracy declared war on another true democracy?.. Never.. It has never happened. Some of us may not like the motive but we should appreciate the final outcome.
    Anyway….. Back to the Universe.. 🙂

  276. Oh ya Bush introduced a great democracy in IRAQ, the body count seems to be higher than it used to be prior 2003. The Christians are screwed. Thousands upon thousands are fleeing the country. At least back then it was safe for an ordinary citizen to travel within the country, now days it can get your head chopped off. I am from IRAQ and these people do not know how to live in a democratic ways…..they will never learn democracy.

  277. Joe –
    Well I guess that as long as my planet has people thinking like you do the death toll will continue.
    And yes, you are right.. As long as they didn’t speak their minds they could keep their heads..

  278. OMG

    I don’t believe it. You actually censored my snarky comment (at 5:52pm) about Bush Derangement Syndrome??

    Care to explain?

  279.’s been rumored for a few weeks now that they found the remains of a license plate and wheel bearings. NASA should be comming forth with the pic’s any day.

  280. I think there’s been enough Bush-bashing and conspiracy talk. It has absolutley nothing to do with the topic, and it is essentially trolling.

    The site operators have every right to “censor” and moderate.

  281. I do apologize for Bush bashing, this is a great site. I love reading the articles and especially the comments.
    Keep up the good work.


  282. Drak,

    “I think there’s been enough Bush-bashing and conspiracy talk. It has absolutley nothing to do with the topic, and it is essentially trolling.”

    That was my thinking also, hence my snarky comment about the BDS comments.
    But guess who Ian decided to “censor”, “delete”, “remove”…guess whose comment “is no longer there”?

    The BDS remains but the anti-BDS had to go.

    “The site operators have every right…”

    True. They certainly have the ability and the ownership. But most website operators, especially science websites, do not so obviously engage in viewpoint discrimination.

  283. Well just one fact to affirm that god does not exist never has and never will. That or that Martians were really bad and god destroyed them all. However fascinating the story may be, the truth still remains to be discovered. It shall be discovered only when you humans are ready for it. I can say this much, life on earth would be very different had it not been for contaminants from Mars. Ah just kidding you wish there was some truth to that too. My point is anyone can come up with any theory about it. However, let the facts speak, I say. I say god, faith, religion has no place, business or should have any interests in this finding. I am sure we will have to dig a bit more before revealing some truth. I would like to see that there was life and that microbes have been found alive to shut the religious freaks once and for all. Those religious fanatics have kept humanity at a technological stone age for far too long. The benefits to humans can be much greater if evolution was allowed to accelerate and adapt to our new conditions. I think we need to band together and prohibit religious fanatics from existing. We can only do this with education and truth.

  284. Update on what is really in Mars..

    Here is the WH spin on that. The probe got confused with it’s shadow and will be put out of commission. WH will shortly after announce a space probe to be maned and sent to Mars to build verify the shadows.

  285. Humans have always thought they knew the truth. What difference does it make what we think we know. In the end, there’s no denying the truth.

  286. $50 says they found out the Nazi’s got there out first ^^

    (I can’t help it! I’m obsessed with this conspiracy theory!)

  287. Get your crap straight. Don’t compare orthodox communism with Stalinism they are drastically different.

  288. note to those speculating about the presence of oil….

    its an organic substance! the presence of oil would also signify the presence of fairly complex life in the distant past, so its unlikely to say the least.

  289. Well its probably nothing new really, Imean there are already pictures of a “ribbed” creature or structure on mars, So whats so bad about finding some sort of life?

  290. or maybe that the “scientific” faith (religion) of evolution is complete BS, outside of changes within the kinds based on environment. It takes more faith for me to believe in that crap than if someone said that aliens put us here. So many people have faith in scientists who tell us that life went through changes that we dont even see happening today. IE: Changes in horses that brought about different sizes and shapes–believable and provable, changes in horses that make them transform into another creature altogether–fantasy and guessing.

    As far as religious concerns, it wouldn’t effect me, the good book does say that we were made in his image, not that we were the only ones made. Well, maybe if it was a tablet that proved otherwise, but i would still be just as skeptical of the people who delivered any science without proof as would someone who is skeptical of faith in God without proof. Some parts of science are religious, and they require you believe certain things that are not provable, a good bit of it. But in todays scientific world, speculation and relativity count as hard proof. Science is testable and repeatable, and only then do you have proof. For some folks, proof of any life, even a spore is enough “proof of life elsewhere” to give them the greenlight that they are safe from a god altogether, that is why i do believe the search is so fervent. Any Christian who would publically claim to be so would have to say that there probably are aliens out there, and the Bible mentions the Nephilim who came down to earth. Dont believe me, read it for yourself. I too would want to make sure and mull it over before someone came behind and proved all my theories wrong with evidence, see– Neaderthal man and various so called forms of ape man creatures from millions of years ago(translation: long ago, and far far away!).

    Since we are all guessing, I too would think it is something revolving around a source of renewable energy, or just something we haven’t seen before. Otherwise, why would you go to any politician who has anything to gain, which is all of them both democrats and repubs.

    Some of these folks make me laugh, ya need a good sense of humor!

  291. If they announced they found life, or the potential for life, wouldnt this create a race to mars? Just a thought. We wouldn’t want anyone beating us to these natural resources we have found… so we’d keep them under wraps. China has already announced plans for a manned mission to mars. We better take dull photos of red rocks and deserted landscapes. Better not show those photos of trees on mars.

    yes this is MARS

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