Today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day shows two images taken by the Mars Global Surveyor. A comparison of the same crater in 1999 and 2005 shows that there is an active slope process occuring in a crater, and many interpret this to be a brief flow of liquid water down from the rim. Liquid water, of course, is essential for life, and this increases the chances for finding life on Mars.
A few observations:
- There are alternative slope processes that could have caused the white scar, such as a simple landslide. A majority of workers think this is from water, but this could be because they want it to be caused by water.
- Due to the low atmospheric pressure on Mars, water cannot exist for long as a liquid on the surface, even at temperatures above zero Celsius. On Mars, water will behave like dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) does on Earth. Rather than going from solid to liquid to gas as it is heated, it will go directly from solid to gas (sublimation). This is not to say that liquid water cannot exist on the Martian surface for brief amounts of time.
- If there is life on Mars, it will likely be similar to bacteria on Earth.
- If there wasn’t life on Mars before, it could be there now. Despite precautions, there is a chance that bacteria from Earth could have survived the journey on one of the probes that have landed on the surface.
- Interplanetary contamination might occur naturally as well. We have meteorites on Earth that came from Mars; and Mars likely has meteorites that came from Earth. It is possible that bacteria could survive this trip.
- There is no reason for Christians to be concerned about this type of research. There is no reason, Biblically, why there couldn’t be simple life scattered througout the universe.
- Astronomy Picture of the Day has offered a more convincing image of “water on Mars” in the past:
Grace and Peace
It is that time of the year; time for chemists (and their students) to gather around their chemis-trees and sing chemis-tree carols.
Here’s one I wrote for the occasion:
THE CHEMIS-TREE SONG
(Tune: The Christmas Song)
Chestnuts roasting with an open fire
With a calorimeter
Chemis-tree carols being sung by a choir
And students dressed up with safety goggles
Everybody knows the specific heat of H2O
Is one calorie per gram degree Celsius
And though it’s been said, many times, many ways
Q=mC delta T
There are many more chemis-tree carols, of course, which can be found on the internet by searching for “chemis-tree carols.” After singing a number of chemis-tree carols, I ask my students to give their thoughts on “the true meaning of chemistry.”
To see the songs we sang in high school chemistry this year, keep on reading…
Grace and Peace