Researching the UFO Phenomena
Jerry Sievers Interview with Steven Hile
The Universe: A Revolution in Knowledge
Part 1 The Solar System; A Look at Mars
Jerry Sievers: You recently said we were at a point where we need to revisit Segment 2?
Steven Hile: In Segment 2 we looked at the data supporting the "origins of life" on Earth through natural processes and that it would be these same processes which would also be responsible for life elsewhere in the Universe. This is the driving principle behind science, not only with the various World governments but on the vast majority of the college campus in any county in the world which participates in the scientific process. To be certain this is an extremely complex subject but one on which science in general is making progress. Progress has really been happening but there is always the problem of getting new technologies to work; witness problems with the research craft sent to the various planets. As we will see the main concentration is currently on Mars where many hold to a hope that with our currently technology we will find life there.
JS: MUFON's mission rides on such principles of advancement in science!
SH: MUFON's has held to this for the number of years that I have been observing but not all that I've observed falls there. Outside of MUFON the picture often seems to take on different perspectives. Ufology on the broad basis fringes on many non-scientific levels which leaves a vacuum on the subject. Ufology has not been embraced by academia as a scientific field of study although in the early days it received some attention.
JS: Where are the advancements which we can hold up for examination and application to ufology?
SH: Advancements have come in many fields including biology, physics, chemistry, engineering etc. It would make sense to start with astronomy which underlay's other fields such as astrophysics and planetary science to mention two. Biology is quite complex as can be organic chemistry both important to the "origins of life". All these need to be considered if we are to get anywhere at all with the subject of UFOs.
Here we begin a review of the universe in which we reside. A tremendous amount of knowledge has been leaned in the last several years. All data and graphics presented in this Segment are found on the internet. Both text and graphic links to internet sites provide detail information in support of the text. Many links to Wikipedia, the free on-line encyclopedia provides extensive amounts of information. A number of extremely informational Podcasts links are made to supporting audio information. Internet podcasts links are to scholarly sources of information such as the Spitzer ST (JPL/Cal Tech), Astronomy Cast with Dr. Pamela Gay (Universe Today) and Reason.org. Where more than one link is used double parentheses (Here) and (Hear) are used. A podcast player such as Media player or iTunes is required.
In this Part 1 of Segment 7 we first deal with Mars. Then beginning with Part 2 we look at the Solar System except for the earth/moon system. In the following Parts we expand our review out to the stars and our Milky way galaxy, then to the universe beyond. We return to the earth/moon system and then finally take a close look at the parameters which define the universe.
I remember as an adolescent that Mars was the great mystery in the solar system. It was thought that there might have huge channels carrying water probably from the north and south poles to the interior of the planet. That meant there must be advanced life there. In 1964 when the Mariner 4 spacecraft flew past Mars for the first time it showed no channels but rather a more Moon like surface. I remember President Lyndon Johnson saying he was relieved because of the fear that Mars had instilled from his childhood days when stories such as "War of the Worlds" and other Science Fiction works were prevalent. In 1976 the Viking Landers gave us the first excellent views of the weathering basaltic lava surface of Mars near the planets equator. Sharp edge volcanic rocks scattered across the surface. Soil element contents differ from Earth and organic tests proved for the most part negative and deemed inconclusive. In 2003 a team of scientists took Viking equivalent instruments to the very high and dry Atacama desert plateau in Chile, South America. They were unable to detect any signs of life in Atacama Desert soil sights tested which essentially matched the Viking tests on Mars. They however missed perchlorates in soil samples at Antacama which the 2008 Phoenix mission found on Mars. The Antacama region is unique on Earth and is being used by NASA to test instruments for future Mars missions. The finding of Mars meteorites on earth has caused great excitement in the scientific community regarding the possibilities of microscopic life there. A particular meteorite known as ALH84001 has been of particular interest but remains questionable (Here1) and (Here2). There is a lot of discussion and documentation on the life on Mars subject and we've linked some important sites with the (Here2) site the broadest and most extensive. Interestingly when the "origins of life" research first showed that the early Earth did not have the necessary conditions the search first shifted to Mars for a time. This was when the movie Mission to Mars came out in support of Mar as the "origins of life" hypothesis. While some still hold to Mars, a majority shift to deep interstellar space has since occurred. Data from the Mars orbiters, the two surface rovers and the Phoenix Lander show Mars had the same problems for the "orgins of life" as the Earth has. We have known much about Mars but direct proof was needed to affirm what science indicated. Mars is a small planet with weak gravity and an extremely thin atmosphere consisting of 96% carbon dioxide. Atmospheric pressure at the surface is equivalent to that at approximately 90,000 feet here on earth or approximately 0.6%. Small percentages of other elements are found in the atmosphere including traces of water vapor. Water in the form of ice is abundant in the subsurface and vaporizes off the surface and freezes back in the form of frost especially at the poles. And yes the sky is red on Mars due the large amounts of dust (corroded iron particles) kept aloof by the high speed winds which occur in the thin atmosphere much like high altitude winds here on earth. Due to the lack of an ozone layer water vapor molecules at high altitudes are broken down by the Suns ultraviolet rays and escape the planet. Water molecules and other lighter molecules also escape the planet due to the weak gravity which can only hold onto heavier molecules such as carbon dioxide. Although these actions have affected the planet over millions of years thin clouds of ice particles move rapidly through Martian skies.
Huge dust devils of red dust leave dark tracks across the surface of the planet and cause formable surface sand blasting. One surprising reason our surface rovers have worked so well is these winds periodically blow the dust off their solar panels.
The soil on Mars is very dry, more so than the driest deserts here on earth. The phase diagram for water easily explains this phenomenon as a result of temperature and pressure. Liquid water on the surface boils to vapor at the same time it freezes resulting in the subsurface ice we see. An interesting affect on Mars is to see the tracks from the two rovers as they moved across the surface. With surface temperatures far below freezing, the very dry soil allows very deep tracks (Go outside here on earth when the temperature is below freezing and try sticking a shovel into the ground). Yet though dry the soil contains water ice just below the surface. The Phoenix Mars Lander directly sampled water ice in shallow soil in 2008. In fact Phoenix is most likely setting on ice shells as can be seen when the landing rockets blew away soil showing large flat surface directly below the Lander believed to be most likely ice.
The soils at the Phoenix sight are slightly alkaline (pH 8 to 9) which was expected from the known geology of the part of the planet. Models show Mars tilts 60 degrees from its current axis every few million years which would give the planet naturally occurring geology beyond the normal occurring soils. Rocks weather and with the sand blasting winds on Mars minerals are going to be continuing to mix in with the soils.
The Phoenix Lander did look for carbon organics without success. Organics should be present in the form of the simple stuff like HCN (hydrogen cyanide), CO2 or perhaps something a little more complex. Just simple carbon compounds, nothing complex like sugars or nuclear tides, etc. Within science carbon organics can mean a wide range of compounds, anything from DNA down to CO2. But the simple stuff needs to be on Mars. Science needs to be careful how they state their findings so not to make more out of it than it really is. There are hundreds of characteristics which must be "just-so" for life to be possible which we will address later in this Segment 7.
We also need to realize space craft can not be fully sterilized, not just those from the United States but all the other countries who have sent craft to Mars. We have planted the seeds of life on Mars and so we should in the future find remnants of Earth life there. As stated previously Science knows the conditions for the "origin of life" never existed there but the conditions to sustain life do (to a certain extent). Also much Earth stuff has naturally been transferred to near Earth orbit space and out to Mars and beyond (and the Moon). Consider that material has been blasted into space continuously up until the last several thousand years. This occurred particularly during the inner-solar system late heavy bombardment (which we will address in the next part of this Segment). One ton of Earth soil typically contains 10 to the 17 power of living bacteria.
We should consider that in all likelihood we most probably find the remains of Earth life on Mars. Living life is possible since we have seed it there but the conditions there should break it down.
The early Mars cooled off rapidly due to its mass and location 134 million miles from the Sun. Today it has no liquid core to generate an electromagnetic field consequently the solar winds sweep the planet continuing to blow away its atmosphere. Basically it's a dead world but geological changes continue today. Early-on some four billion years ago water did sweep across the surface leaving gullies and cutting the channels we see there today. Warmer temperature on the early Mars could have been driven at the time by volcanic activity. The next step in Mars exploration at this writing is the Mars Science Laboratory or MSL, a much larger and complex rover. MSL will carry more advanced scientific instruments than any previous mission including those for the analysis of soil samples and drilled mineral powders from rocks. It will also investigate the past or present ability of Mars to support microbial life as reviewed above. Unfortunately at this expose NASA has requested additional monies for MSL which will no doubt jeopardize the full extent of the project. We in reality probably should only expect a more limited version of the project to eventually come to about such as happened with Phoenix. We should find at least the remains of fossilized microbial life that could have found its way to Mars from the Earth during the late heavy bombardment of inner solar system. Something we will look at in the next part of this Segment. NASA has taken a "following the water" approach first to the exploring of Mars mainly due to technical hurtles and the extensive time and cost of developing the equipment needed for the necessary research. We have found landing there is extremely difficult due to the thin atmosphere and "mass" restriction of the crafts. The loss of the ESA Beagle 2 craft is believed to have been during landing and the weak robustness of its landing system. The thin atmosphere provides limited drag for parachute breaking requiring retrorocket assistance. The rover landings used both parachute and retrorocket braking and a drop with air bag deployment. The Viking and Phoenix crafts used parachute and retrorockets. Larger future craft like MSL will require a much more robust system if they are to reach the surface successfully. This will be a major challenge as the landing craft become larger. We have learned allot about Mars in terms of Astrobiology and there are no doubt surprises to come. It could be home to some forms of exotic biological life even as the Earth is; i.e. Extremophiles. Research indicates it is highly doubtful though. We should find at least the remains of fossilized microbial life that could have found its way to Mars from the Earth during the late heavy bombardment of the inner solar system. Something we will look at in the next part of this Segment.
The following series of pod cast links provide support for the above data and provides extensive additional information. Loading pod cast may require a few minutes.
NEXT: Segment 7 Part 2: The Inner Solar System