Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

NASA Experts -”Mars’ Moon Phobos May Yield Alien Life”

Published on July 4, 2012 by   ·   No Comments
Phobos-viking-1 

DailyGalaxy

A mission to Mars’moon Phobos could return with alien life, experts at Purdue University have suggested.“A sample from Phobos, which is much easier to reach than the Red Planet itself, would almost surely contain Martian material blasted off from large asteroid impacts,” said Jay Melosh, a distinguished professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences and physics and aerospace engineering at Purdue.

“If life on Mars exists or existed within the last 10 million years, a mission to Phobos could yield our first evidence of life beyond Earth.”

Melosh led a team chosen by NASA’s Planetary Protection Office to evaluate if a sample from Phobos could contain enough recent material from Mars to include viable Martian organisms. The study was commissioned to prepare for the failed 2011 Russian Phobos-Grunt mission, but there is continued international interest in a Phobos mission, he said. It will likely be a recurring topic as NASA reformulates its Mars Exploration Program.A Phobos mission was discussed at NASA’s Concepts and Approaches for Mars Exploration workshop and a report issued Tuesday stated that the Martian moons are “important destinations that may provide much of the value of human surface exploration at reduced cost and risk.”Melosh collaborated with Kathleen Howell, the Hsu Lo Professor of Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, and graduate students Loic Chappaz and Mar Vaquero on the project.

The researchers combined their expertise in impact cratering and orbital mechanics to determine how much material was displaced by particular asteroid impacts and whether individual particles would land on Phobos, the closer of the two Martian moons.

The team concluded that a 200-gram sample scooped from the surface of Phobos could contain, on average, about one-tenth of a milligram of Mars surface material launched in the past 10 million years and 50 billion individual particles from Mars. The same sample could contain as much as 50 milligrams of Mars surface material from the past 3.5 billion years.

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