A guest post courtesy of Matthew Halo Cattanach, who is set to breathe life into The Fox Gazette after a three-year hibernation! Drumroll please…
Is there life on Mars? Has there been life on Mars? Do you stay awake at night pondering these questions? Perhaps you will soon sleep easy as scientists from the European Space Agency and Russia intend to answer these questions, then ask many more!
One damp, gloomy morning on Monday the 14th of March, 2016 at 09:31 (GMT), a pointy proton propelled rocket was sent into space carrying the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO). This planetary probing proboscis has been sent to sniff waste gases expelled from the red planet.
The question on everyone’s lips – and some scientist’s nostrils – is who or what is producing these noxious anomalies? Past experiments have found methane gas in the atmosphere of Mars. As you may well know, this gas is produced by many life forms, from bacteria to cows. Although rocks also emit it as they break down.
The scientific snoz spacecraft is set to land in about seven months, when it will begin searching the cracks and craters of Mars in the hope of discovering the methane’s source.
For the boffins out there, the TGO will be sniffing for other gases too. If the methane has lingering hydrocarbons around it like propane or ethane, then some lifeforms probably blurted it out. However if the TGO detects sulphur dioxide, then it’s probably just rocks getting older.
It seems earthlings’ obsession with Mars will never cease. However the same cannot be said for the funding of such projects.
Dr Frank Urberitz, chairman of the Scientific Team of North Kazakhstan (STINK), believes these extravagant experiments are a gargantuan waste of dosh. “We in Kazakhstan cannot continue to spend money on Mars, we have too many issues to solve with our cretinous population, particularly in the southern provinces”.
Technically Urberitz is correct, but we all love Mars, don’t we?