The Mars Mystery: The Secret Connection Between Earth and the Red Planet (Anglais) Broché – 7 juin 1999
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Although separated by tens of millions of miles of empty space, Mars and Earth participate in a mysterious communion.
Repeated exchanges of materials have taken place between the two planets, the most recent involving spacecraft from Earth that have landed on Mars. Likewise we now know that chunks of rock thrown off from the surface of Mars periodically crash into Earth. By 1997 a dozen meteorites had been firmly identified as having originated on Mars. They are known technically as SNC meteorites (after Shergotty, Nakhla, and Chassingy, the names given to the first three such meteorites found) and researchers around the world are on the lookout for more.
According to calculations by Dr. Colin Pillinger of the U.K. Planetary Sciences Research Institute, 100 tons of Martian material arrives on Earth each year.
One of the Mars meteorites, ALH84001, was found in Antarctica in 1984. It contains tiny tubular structures that NASA scientists sensationally identified in August 1996 as possible microscopic fossils of bacteria-like organisms that may have lived on Mars more than 3.6 billion years ago.
In October 1996 scientists at Britains Open University announced that a second Martian meteorite, EETA 79001, had also been found to contain the chemical signatures of life -- in this case, astonishingly, organisms that could have existed on Mars as recently as 600,000 years ago.
Two probes were launched by NASA in 1996 Pathfinder, a lander-rover, and Mars Global Surveyor, an orbiter. Further missions are budgeted to follow through 2005, when an attempt will be made to scoop up a chunk of the surface rock or soil of Mars and then return the sample to Earth. Russia and Japan are also sending probes to Mars to undertake a range of scientific tests and experiments.
Longer term are plans to terraform the Red Planet. This would involve the introduction of greenhouse gases and simple bacteria from Earth. Over a period of centuries the warming effects of the gases and the metabolic processes of the bacteria would transform the Martian atmosphere, making it habitable by more and more complex species, either introduced or locally evolved.
How likely is it that humanity will be able to fulfill this plan to seed Mars with life?
Apparently it is only a matter of finding the money. The technology to do the job already exists. Ironically, however, the existence of life on Earth itself remains one of the great unsolved mysteries of science. Nobody knows when, why, or how it began here. It just seems to have exploded suddenly, out of nowhere, at a very early stage in the planets history. Although Earth is thought to have formed 4.5 billion years ago, the most ancient surviving rocks are younger than that about 4 billion years old. Traces of microscopic organisms have been found going back almost 3.9 billion years.
The transformation of inanimate matter into life is a miracle that has never repeated itself, one that even the most advanced scientific laboratories cannot replicate. Are we really to believe that such an amazing piece of cosmic alchemy could have occurred by chance in just the first few hundred million years of Earth's long existence?
Professor Fred Hoyle of Cambridge University does not think so. His explanation for the origin of life on Earth so soon after the formation of the planet is that it was imported from outside the solar system on great interstellar comets. Some fragments collided with Earth, releasing spores that had been held in suspended animation in the cometary ice. The spores spread out and took root all around the newly formed planet, which was soon densely colonized by hardy microorganisms. These slowly evolved and diversified, eventually producing the immense range of life-forms that we know today.
An alternative and more radical theory, supported by a number of scientists, is that Earth could have been deliberately terraformed 3.9 billion years ago, just as we are now preparing to terraform Mars. This theory presupposes the existence of an advanced star-faring civilization or more likely, many such civilizations distributed throughout the universe.
Most scientists do not see the need for comets or aliens. Their theory, the mainstream view, is that life arose on Earth accidentally, without any outside interference. They further argue, on the basis of widely agreed calculations about the size and composition of the universe, that there are probably hundreds of millions of Earth-like planets spread randomly across billions of light years of interstellar space. They point out that it is improbable, amid such legions of suitable planets, that life would have evolved only on Earth.
WHY NOT MARS?
In our own solar system, the first planet out from the Sun, tiny, seething Mercury, is believed to be incongenial to any imaginable form of life. So too is Venus, the second planet from the Sun, where concentrated sulphuric acid pours down twenty-four hours a day from poisonous clouds. Earth is the third planet from the Sun. The fourth, Mars, is indisputably the most Earth-like in the solar system. Its axis is tilted at an angle of 24.935 degrees in relation to the plane of its orbit around the Sun (Earths axis is tilted 23.5 degrees). It makes a complete rotation around its axis in 24 hours, 39 minutes, 36 seconds (Earth's rotational period is 23 hours, 56 minutes, 5 seconds). Like Earth, Mars is subject to the cyclic axial wobble that astronomers call precession. Like Earth it is not a perfect sphere but somewhat flattened at the poles and expanded into a bulge at the equator. Like Earth it has four seasons. Like Earth it has icy polar caps, mountains, deserts, and dust storms. And although Mars today is a freezing hell, there is evidence that in some ancient period it was alive with oceans and rivers and enjoyed a climate and atmosphere quite similar to those of Earth.
How probable is it that the spark that ignited life on Earth would not also have made its mark on neighboring, similar Mars? Whether Earth was deliberately terraformed, in other words, or whether it was seeded with the spores of life from crashed cometsor whether, indeed, life arose here spontaneously and accidentallyit is reasonable to hope that we might find traces of the same kind of process on Mars.
If such traces are not forthcoming, then the chances that we are alone in the universe increase and the chances of life being discovered anywhere else are dramatically reduced. The implication will be that Earth's life-forms emerged under conditions so focused, specialized, and unique and at the same time so random that they could not be replicated even on a nearby world belonging to the same solar family. How much less likely, therefore, that they could be replicated on alien worlds in orbit around distant stars.
For this reason the question of life on Mars must be regarded as one of the great philosophical mysteries of our time. With the rapid advances in exploration of the planet it is a mystery that is soon likely to be solved.
HINTS OF LIFE
The evidence in from Mars so far takes four principal forms:
1. Earth-based observations from telescopes
2. Observations and photographs from orbiting spacecraft
3. Chemical and radiological tests carried out on Martian soil samples by NASA landers, with the results being transmitted back to Earth for analysis
4. Microscopic examination of meteorites known to have come from Mars
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Earth-based telescopes produced the first ever life on Mars sensation -- the claim that the planet was checkered with a gigantic network of irrigation canals bringing water from the poles to the parched equatorial regions. This claim, which we shall discuss further in part 2 of this book, was put forward by Percival Lowell, a prominent U.S. astronomer, and made an indelible mark on the collective psyche of Americans. Most scientists ridiculed Lowell's ideas, however, and in the 1970s, NASA's Mariner 9 and Viking 1 and 2 probes orbited the planet and sent back definitive photographs proving that there were no canals.
It is now recognized that Lowell (and others who claimed to have seen the canals) were the victims of poor-quality telescopic images and an optical illusion that causes the brain to link disparate, unconnected features into straight lines. Even today, no Earth-based telescope has sufficient resolution to allow us to solve the mystery of life on Mars. We must therefore make our deductions using the three other types of evidence available to us: Martian meteorites, orbiter observations, lander observations.
We have already seen that two of the Martian meteorites appear to contain traces of primitive microorganisms (although many scientists disagree with this interpretation). Less well known is the fact that a number of the tests carried out in 1976 by the Viking landers also proved positive for life.
From the Hardcover edition.
Revue de presse
find by find, until one is overwhelmed by the evidence that draws to an inevitable conclusion."
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Hancock provides plenty of background on the swarm of comets and asteroids that are on Earth-crossing orbits and how they got there. It seems as our galaxy makes its great circle over millions of years it periodically encounters the galactic arm which is full of debris. Some of this debris remains with our solar system, but on unstable orbits. Comets, it turns out, can begin as huge objects many miles across. They generally break up at some point into smaller more numerous objects and work their way from the far end of our solar system to closer to the sun - and, of course, passing by Earth. And yes, comets CAN hit planets as we learned with the explosive impact of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 on the planet Jupiter in 1994. One of the impact craters it left is larger than Earth!
Hancock explores the photos we have of Mars that show it must have had liquid water in its past. He gives us a complete summary of the structures found at Cydonia, including the famous face. Despite NASA's release of a picture that made the face look like a bunch of random scratches, the speculation of artificiality is very much alive. NASA was deceptive in releasing a "raw" photo, something they normally do not do. It is obvious they wanted to put an end to the public's fascination with the face. Even cleaned up, the photo shows an irregular structure that only looks a bit like a face. But the whole concept of Cydonia as a place with constructed monuments never rested solely on the face. There is the matter of the geometry of the area, which seems to have encoded a lot of the same numbers as the pyramids of Giza and other ancient Earth monuments.
In true Hancock fashion, the author provides us with penty of food for thought. He carefully labels his ideas as speculation, not fact, but he conjectures that the damage to Mars could have been recent, not millions of years ago, and it could have coincided with the great flood stories of Earth and an apparent disaster or series of disasters in the time frame of 9000 to 12,000 years ago. These may have involved a scattering of comets and other space objects that are still a danger to Earth; that previous cycles of these swarms from space wiped out the dinosaurs and caused other mass extinctions on Earth.
Hancock goes on to speculate that disasters on earth may not be purely geological events, but may have to do with man's treatment of his fellow man and his respect (or lack of it) for his world. He laments that the nations of Earth are doing almost nothing to search the solar system for the danger that may be awaiting our home. Is it just hubris that makes up think we are the culmination of all previous generations of humankind? Or are we dead wrong, and is human civilization destined to experience cycles of destruction? Will our Mother Earth become a dead place like Mars? As always, Graham Hancock provides entertaining reading whether you buy into it or not.
Mr. Hancock continues to intrigue me with all of the "possibilities" of this present work. I am now even more inclined to give credence to his research because of "Lords of Poverty" which, although written ten years ago, has proven to be right on target!
I must say that as I read "Mars Mystery..." I found myself surfing the Web trying to access his bibleographies in an attempt to better understand exactly what he was talking about. In every respect, however, the book is an adventure in learning and an expansion of one's intellectual peripheries.
I could start right off by praising Hancock's research and the integrity of his sources, but actually, before any of that, I think special credit should be given to this man's authorship.
Indeed that's in my mind the biggest asset of this book: that it's a definitive "cantputdowner". The only way i could see someone not being thoroughly engulfed in this marvelous work of a book is if he's either brainwashed beyond repair and refuses to hear anything entertaining notions that go against the "programm" in his mind, or, worse still, if someone is basically cerebrally pulseless.
Hancock spreads out a super convincing, mm, not so much theory, but argument. At no point in his book, again to his credit, does he dogmatically claim "look, there WAS intelligent life on Mars at some point" but he does claim that the evidence is overwhelming towards such a direction and that the rather bizzare attitude of Nasa about this might be actually confirming this or at the very least fuels suspicion to the max.
The premise here is the stunning "monuments" in the area of Cydonia and the implications arising from this. It's not only the well known (???) face on Mars but also the hexagonal eerily symmetrical pyramids and other such phenomena that have tell-tale signs of artificiality about them.
Even though i've read quite some, especially on the net, about the "Face" i found that there was actually an ocean of data i was totally unaware of. Hancock goes on a lenghty but very pleasant to read diatribe about those constructions but where it gets immensely interesting is when he tackles the more-than-strange behavior of Nasa about the whole issue. NASA to put it in a nutshell has been basically fronting the theory that not only the winds are particularly talented out on Mars but that they are also selectively talented as they seem to be creating things in Cydonia and only.
That might be laughable enough one would think, but their overall attitude to public demand for further and detailed investigation on these anomalies so the matter could (?) be put to rest has been borderline conspiratorial. The world has either had to deal with outright refusals or with grainy photos that Nasa releases in an apparent effort to conceal what really? Questiosn that scream for immediate answers. NASA general politics are also discussed in the process and, well, they dont seem exactly "crystal-clean" stuff to put it extremely mildly.
But by then you'd only be half way through the book: the latter half is the one that -incredibly-manages to capture the imagination even more albeit in a macabre and cosmically scary way.
If the death of Mars as all evidence overwhelmingly suggests came from a cosmic bombardment of comets or fragments thereof what are the implications to us here? Especially since the spectacular "atatck" of comet Levy-Shoemaker on Jupiter there has been more discussion about such a danger even if the budget we actually have on comet-orbit watching is downright ridiculous.
Hancock reveals to the uninitiated, like myself, that comets are not a distant low-probability threat but an ever-present and increasingly threatening reality. Alone in our solar system there are 100s of 1000s of them flying about in anarchic orbits and in mindbending speeds (most between 45.000-60.000klm/hour). Many are so called "earth-crossers" as they regularly (in universal terms) cross our orbit.
When one thinks that our current theory holds that the dinos became history indeed because of a comet or that there have been not just that one but several seriously damaging impacts in Earth's past, but also, that contrary to mainstream belief a comet does not have to be "giant size" (i.e planet-size) but a mere few kilometers in diameter to make the "blue planet" another cosmic corpse with a past. But with no present.
Hancock does also question the possible connection between a past civilisation on Mars and ourselves and again, the evidence more than confirms his notion that such a connection is not some far-out sci-fi type thought but it is actually supported by our ancient heritage. What i like a lot about Hancock compared to other researchers of the genre is that he's actual very casual and undogmatic even when he suggests (but never insists) such dazzling theories.
An absolutely tremendous book on all levels. If you do have a "sucpicion department" in your brain the "Mars Mystery" will confirm your worst fears. All this has nothing to do with "conspiracy theories" by the way. As a journalist once said at the beginning of the 20th century:
"...it's not the conspiracy theories that interest me, it's the theories about conspiracies."
He treats the example of the present day scarred and desolate planet Mars as a warning for what could happen to our present "high" civilisation now populating Earth. Elsewhere, he also speculates on a conspiracy by the powers-that-be to conceal what happened to Mars - and therefore Mankind's actual history - so as to be able to control their societies, which might otherwise become restive and panick stricken in the face of such knowledge and eventualities. After all, the elites are mature and powerful enough to be able to contemplate awful disasters coolly and in the face - which an ordinary Tom, Dick and Harry can't otherwise even think of, let alone bear! In the last chapter of this book titled "Dark Star", he writes mournfully to the effect that just as humanity seems to be lifting itself to superior levels of cultural, technological and spiritual expression, along comes a global cataclysm forcing them back to square one: to begin as mountain shepherds and hunters all over again, carrying with them the tales of lost Golden Ages of science and culture. This forces him to contemplate mournfully, along Gnostic lines, as to whether God is indeed all-good and love as the "classic" scriptures would have one believe - or whether "He" is a Duality: Evil as well as Good. He then supplies the answers, and so do his other excellent books which I recommend to Amazon readers, "The Lords of Poverty" and "Journey Through Pakistan". The influence of devilish forces aside, it seems we ourselves become The Devil when our lofty achievements get overtaken and harnessed to base desires and consumeristic greed, leading inevitably to some kind of disaster... That is evident right now, in this most critical time recorded Human history has ever known.