[ Posted : 20.03.2004 ]
Ignoring Fossils On Mars
By David Sadler
Art by Steve Troy
CHALLENGE TO SPACE.COM and CNN
Print the image in question , and print the
paper by Richard C. Hoagland. Let your readers decide.
Image: Opportunity rover image 034/1M131201538EFF0500P2933M2M1
Paper: " The Curious Case of the NASA Crinoid Cover-Up."
CHALLENGE TO NASA
Engage in a debate on this fossil candidate with Richard C. Hoagland
and his team. Broadcast this debate on NASA TV and let the public decide
whether or not NASA destroyed a fossil candidate.
On or about March 8, 2004, Richard C. Hoagland published a paper
titled, "The Curious Case of the NASA Crinoid Cover-Up." This paper
may be found at
The paper carefully considers a fossil candidate on Mars imaged
by the MER Opportunity's microscopic imager. These images are posted by JPL
Before ordering a scientific survey of this specimen, the rover
Opportunity was instructed to grind this fossil candidate to dust, which
it did with unquestioned efficiency.
Since then, very curious media has emerged that suggests NASA
doesn't want anyone discussing or showing the potential fossil.
Immediately after Hoagland's paper was published to the Internet,
Hoagland came under intense personal attack by persons closely aligned with
On March 15, 2004, Space.com published a character assassination
piece with the provocative title, "War of the Words: Scientist Attacks
Alien Claims." This article is posted at
Hoagland responded on March 16, 2004 by publishing his email
communications with the author of the attack piece, Robert Roy Britt. Britt
ignored Hoagland's defense and hard science, choosing instead to concentrate
on Hoagland's 'credentials' and his critics' personal accusations, innuendo
and deliberate misstatements of fact.
Hoagland's response is titled, "Email Exchange From Rob Roy Britt of
Space.com And Richard C. Hoagland on the Plait\Greenberg Allegations." Read
this response at
Enterprise published my opinion of this fossil diversion campaign
under the title, "NASA RUNNING SCARED: Shooting the Messenger." It,
too, was posted on March 16, 2004 and can be read at
Space.com followed immediately the next day, March 17, 2004,
by publishing a fossil denial piece that does not mention the fossil candidate
in question, but imparts the impression that it is nearly impossible to find
a fossil on Mars without astronauts on the scene. This article is titled, "Fossil
Hunting on Mars," and can be found in its original published form at
I would like to take this article to task (below), paragraph
by paragraph. My comments will be enclosed in this fashion …
((( My comments... )))
On March 19, 2004, CNN jumped on Hoagland by reprinting the "War of
the Words" article under the title, "Scientist Attacks Alien Claims
On Mars." In this article, there is still no mention of the Crinoid
paper and no printing of the Opportunity image sparking this entire controversy.
This omission by these news outlets and by the NASA scienticians being interviewed
are proof of a campaign to divert attention away from the fossil and discredit
the author of the first paper published regarding the fossil. The CNN article
can be viewed at
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to academic freedom
in the New America...
CONFIRMATION BY OMISSION
With each passing day, the fossil find is CONFIRMED, by how it
is being ACTIVELY ignored and by how one scientist is being dragged behind
the proverbial media pickup truck for publishing a thoughtful and scientific
analysis of the find!
Using Opportunity's microscopic imager and grinder, a detailed
survey of this object could have been performed. A controlled deconstruction
of this fossil candidate could have been ordered with multiple targeted grindings
planned by trained biologists and paleontologists.
Each grinding could have been closely inspected by Opportunity's
microscopic imager and analyzed by biologists and paleontologists the world
over. Instead, the fossil candidate was destroyed in one fell swoop.
One is left with the mental image of the MER control room filled
with minors fighting over the joy stick to see who gets to drive now and
who gets to grind next. Where is the adult supervision at NASA?
It is difficult to describe the loss of this moment and this
THE NEW CHURCH OF OFFICIAL SCIENCE
Speaking of Galileo, it's deja vu all over again, but with a
Father James, Brother Bob and Rabbi Jacob were not at the rover
controls. They did not issue the directive to grind the fossil candidate
to dust. It was not they who failed to formulate a plan for detailed study
of this remarkable artifact. This potential find would have eclipsed every
fossil ever found on Earth. And the scientists and engineers at NASA, not
the Catholic Church of the 17th century, destroyed it.
After the fossil candidate was ground to dust, it fell into an
official black hole. Officially, it does not exist. NASA does not acknowledge
it, and you won't see its image in science publications or the mainstream
news. In short, the Mars fossil has been excommunicated.
“Without some form of censorship, propaganda in the strict sense
of the word is impossible. In order to conduct propaganda, there must be
some barrier between the public and the event. Access to the real environment
must be limited, before anyone can create a pseudo-environment that he thinks
is wise or desirable.”
-- Walter Lippman --
At the same time, a vicious intimidation campaign began to silence
anyone drawing attention to the fossil and a debunking campaign began to
deny a fossil candidate had been found.
Again, this isn't the 17th century Catholic Church preventing
the public from discovering a world-view paradigm shift. It's the New Church
of Official Science destroying the evidence then hiding the potential discovery
from the public. And this is all happening with the help of mainstream media
and so-called 'science' publications.
"Today, the military-industrial complex has expanded to become the
military-industrial-media complex... Thanks to lax enforcement of antitrust
regulations and far less restrictive telecommunications laws, a mere handful
of corporations, many with close ties to the national-security establishment,
now controls most of what Americans know about the world."
-- Terry Hansen --
This is how it works in 2004 A.D. That's not a new pulsar being
detected by Arecibo. It's Galileo spinning in his grave. But this time it’s
the High Priesthood of Scienticians of the New Church of Official Science
refusing to look through their own 'telescope' of the 21st century --- the
rover Opportunity's microscopic imager.
'Scientician,' is a word combining 'scientist' and 'politician'
coined years ago by Dave Powelson to describe the political corruption of
a 'scientist.' A scientician is willing to alter and/or ignore observations
and research to conform to the political correct thinking or policy of any
particular age. No longer an objective scientist, the person becomes a 'political'
scientist --- a scientician. The term will be applied in my comments to the
Space.com article below.
I am confidant that time will expose the corruption and co-opting
of 20th-21st century science. But every age hides a truth. Every age has
its scienticians. And every age has its objective scientists willing to confront
conformity and battle to have paradigm-shifting evidence considered for its
scientific merit. In our age, this is especially true with regards to life
beyond Earth and revolutionary energy sources.
DEBUNKING AND DIVERSION TACTICS
One tactic being used by Space.com and the scientists being interviewed
is to persuade the reader to ignore anything they've heard about the Crinoid
like fossil found on Mars. The intent is to make the reader believe only
the experts at NASA can determine what a fossil is. They do this by convincing
the reader that it is nearly impossible to identify fossils in general, let
alone one on Mars.
Does the intelligent, scientifically oriented reader detect anything
missing from the Space.com article, "Fossil Hunting On Mars," and
the remarks of those 'scientists' being interviewed? Notice there is:
1. no mention of the fossil,
2. no image of the fossil, and
3. no advocate for the fossil candidate creating this controversy.
Richard C. Hoagland is not interviewed about his paper. Space.com
and NASA are both aware of this paper. In fact, the recent and ongoing personal
attacks upon Hoagland and now this 'no fossils on Mars' article, both by
Space.com, are damage control measures by NASA following Hoagland's publication
of the fossil paper and popularization of the fossil find.
These Space.com articles are a stacked deck --- a packed jury
and a show-trial to persuade you, the reader, that "There's nothing
to see here. Move along. There are no fossils on Mars and nothing even comes
close to looking like one, so move along. Nothing to see here."
NASA, in this article, is telling us what to do. "Don't believe your
eyes. Forget your education of the sciences. Do not rely on your own intellect
to determine what you see. Let us tell you what you see. Let us mold your
reality. We are official. We have credentials. We have authority. Just hand
over your tax dollars. You pay --- we play."
To that, I have a simple reply that I had hoped to deliver at
appropriations time as a member of the U.S. House committee overseeing NASA
" America's 'civilian' space exploration program is an empty shell. The
shell provides the public with pretty pictures, but little more. Hidden from
view behind the pretty pictures and astronaut hero worship is a highly politicized,
militarized and corporate owned black operation.
"NASA has grown arrogant in its control of public funds and public data.
NASA swims in cultish ritual that is documented and provable. NASA is awash in
a culture that denies faults pointed out by its own engineers in both design
and procedure. These faults have resulted in the loss of life and extreme damage
to and interruption of America's manned access to space.
"NASA feeds at the trough of the public treasury and shows its appreciation
for its billions of dollars in annual public funding by treating public-data
as proprietary-data and by treating the public as morons. NASA has dishonored
its position and abuses the public trust. NASA has destroyed objective science
for profit and hidden agendas.
"Today, NASA is back asking the U.S. taxpayer for more money so it, and
the contractors that feed from it, can conduct their NEXT mission to 'discover
life' or the NEXT mission that, it is promised this time, will really see to
the end of the universe. But even fools, such as us, have their limits.
"We saw the Hubble Deep Field. It is a truly remarkable and inspiring image
of galaxies as far as we can see. Now we've seen the Hubble Ultra Deep Field.
Another awesome image, but still galaxies for as far as we can see. How about
showing the public something really interesting closer to home?
"Let's get multiple-angles in high-resolution (1.3 meter) images of the
'tube-dune' and the 'golf ball' that is in the crater near the 'tube-dune' on
"We have not seen structures like these on the other moons and planets in
our solar system. Aren't you, and isn't NASA, the least bit curious as to what
these structures are? Do not give us the dune remark and then expect us to move
on. Show us the multi-angled, high-resolution (1.3 meter) images of these objects.
We have the technological capability and we are paying for the missions. As Ronald
Reagan said, "Mr. Green, I paid for this microphone!" NOW SHOW US THESE
"And rather than attacking people asking tough questions, show us Opportunity
rover image 034/1M131201538EFF0500P2933M2M1.
"Tell us why you ground this remarkable specimen to dust when, to many educated
and certified biologists and paleontologists, it looks like a fossil. And let
us hear directly from the MER team's only official 'paleontologist,' Dr. Andrew
Knoll, of Harvard. We want to know where he was and what he was doing when the
destruction of this fossil candidate was taking place.
"Explain to this committee why no discussion of this incident and no image
of this fossil candidate appears in the many articles attacking a scientist who
is trying to draw attention to it.
"Here is a target list of very peculiar features on Mars. We have missions
underway that can do real science on these features, IF NASA is still interested
in civilian science. We want answers. We want cooperation. We want the full imaging
and sensing capability of U.S. taxpayer space assets on and around Mars to zero
in on these targets, and we want open data channels on all returned data and
telemetry with critics of NASA's data handling in the control rooms at all times.
No more data embargoes and sequestering by NASA contractors. This is the public's
data. It is not proprietary to contractors or agencies doing the public's work.
"Until these conditions are met, this committee is withholding further funding
of NASA operations."
Many people can't take a joke. As a person who has run a political
campaign, I am very aware of the dangers resident in jokes and sarcasm. Yet,
the absurdity of the "Fossil Hunting On Mars" article and its abject
denial by omission of Opportunity's fossil candidate begs for some humor.
So in my comments below, I've taken the bait and injected some humor, all
in good fun, along with more serious analysis of the interviews.
If I sound angry, I am. 'Opportunity' may not knock twice.
+ + + + +
The following article is a modified version of the original.
None of the original text has been altered. However, my comments and analysis
of the text has been inserted between paragraphs within a set of three opposing
brackets like this...
((( My comments... )))
The original article may be accessed at
Fossil Hunting On Mars
By Leonard David ( [email protected])
Senior Space Writer
Those on-the-prowl Mars robots -- Spirit and Opportunity -- are
sending back extraordinary images and science data about the red planet and
its history of climate and water.
Both rovers have found evidence of water at their respective
landing sites. But the question remains open as to whether Mars was, or is
today, a planet capable of supporting life.
The tell-tale clues of water left behind hint that some spots
on Mars did have a persistent wet look that might have been sociable to extraterrestrial
creatures. While Mars scientists have their eyes focused on finding tiny
microbes, the question remains: just how far along could martian biology,
if any, have evolved?
Yet answering this question is a difficult task to answer robotically
and it might take rock-splitting fossil hunters, hammer in hand, to chronicle
the true life on Mars saga.
Eye of the beholder
Peter Schultz, a planetary geologist at Brown University in Providence,
Rhode Island, said you don't have to look out to Mars to see how hard it
is to spot fossils.
((( It should be no surprise that NASA has difficulty recognizing fossils
on Mars. It’s hard for NASA to determine the correct colors of Mars,
The American taxpayers pay for costly imaging equipment and color calibration
charts onboard our rovers and landers. In addition to the expensive equipment,
the taxpayers also pay premium rates for the time and effort expended by
NASA employees and contractors on Earth to develop procedures ensuring that
correct colors are rendered under all lighting and environmental conditions
on Mars. But with all the costly equipment and preparation, NASA admits it
can't get the colors right and that the color is really subjective. See Notes
(1) at the end of this article. )))
"We even have trouble identifying fossils on Earth that are older than 3
billion years old. There continues to be debate today," Schultz said. Many
primitive life forms leave only subtle traces and often require sophisticated
techniques to prove that they indeed were produced by something living, he said.
((( Shultz is intentionally confusing the reader. The fossil candidate
that NASA promptly destroyed and which Space.com refuses to even mention,
let alone show the image of, is not difficult to resolve with a high-degree
of confidence. It is rather obvious, and many biologists, geologists and
paleontologists have identified it as being very similar -- if not identical
(!) -- to a terrestrial Crinoid (sea lily).
Schultz is talking about the very first, single-celled life forms
to appear on Earth. No biologist or paleontologist has difficulty identifying
a fossil the likes of a Crinoid. And that is the issue at hand --- the Mars
fossil candidate. This is not a single-celled life form. The Mars fossil
candidate is a multi-celled, multi-stemmed, multi-segmented, fully formed,
fully differentiated and fully-functional Crinoid like fossil. Similar fossils
on Earth date much younger than the “three billion years” mentioned
by Shultz. )))
Those studying the incoming Mars rover images clearly get an
eye-full. For many a casual observer, the zones in which the robots tread
appear to be chocked full of objects, from weird rocks to leftover remains
of long-gone life.
((( This is a direct, if simultaneously indirect, shot at Hoagland. See
the Space.com article titled, " War of the Words." )))
"There are slow geochemical processes that can create spherical shapes and
filamentous forms. The 'eye of the beholder' may guide us where to look but that
is not proof," Schultz advised.
Schultz explained that astronomer Percival Lowell, a keen observer
who, in the late 1880s into the early 1900s, advocated that Mars was a populated
world, once ironically said: "So easily are we the dupes of our own
((( See, we are just nuts again. We are the fools to even consider looking
at a fossil candidate on Mars. How presumptuous of us to think that a science
degree from various public and private U.S. universities could come close
to preparing us to recognize a fossil candidate. We should have known that
the real qualifier for that special knowledge and talent is a government
or government contractors' paycheck and an official working relationship
NASA and the scientists interviewed in this article are highly
conflicted. There has to be a term in the field of psychoanalysis describing
the condition of thought that says on one hand,
"Let's go to Mars to see if we can discover:
(1) whether or not conditions ever existed to harbor life, and
(2) whether or not life actually existed or still exists.
We will design experiments and build the instruments necessary
to conduct the experiments to determine these questions."
Then on the other hand the same person or group refuses to even
consider the evidence returned from their own instruments and a refusal to
even look at their own images. They ignore detections of possible past life
in the form of fossil candidates, imaged by Opportunity, and current life
in the form of microbes detected by the Viking LR experiment! If that isn't
a mental and mission conflict, then, "Scotty, beam up Traficant. We're
getting outta here."
And there has to be something very wrong with a publication devoted
to 'science' that launches attack pieces against people who are drawing attention
to the very things on Mars for which NASA 'says' it is looking.
Space.com does a one two punch. Both punches are political rather
Punch one launches a personal attack against the people pointing
these fossil candidates out. Punch two is more complex. It argues the following
(1) we should look for fossils on Mars,
(2) finding fossils on Mars, if they exist, will be very difficult
if not impossible,
(3) we probably won't be able to identify a fossil on Mars even
if we find one,
(4) anyone saying they have found one or a candidate for one
is expressing unscientific prejudice, and
(5) we need the NEXT mission to resolve this question.
Even though the publication runs dozens of images and articles
each day, it refuses to run the image of the fossil candidate and reprint
a scholarly scientific paper describing a good potential fossil candidate!
In this context, it is clear that Lowell's comment, "So easily are we
the dupes of our own prejudice," is NOT referring to the many people
drawing attention to a potential fossil that literally leaps out from a rocky
ledge on Mars. Instead, Lowell is describing the extreme dogma and prejudices
within NASA, JPL and, evidently, at Space.com -- compelling them to not even
consider NASA's own data returns! I would urge these entities to revisit
the Galileo event, least they repeat the error of arrogant authority and
the encounter the public and professional humiliation of refusing to look
through their own 'telescope.' )))
"This certainly is true for what we think we may see in these unprecedented
close-up views of Mars [provided by the rovers]. Science requires testing and
proving, not simply suggesting," Schultz concluded.
((( 'Testing and proving' are hard to do when you grind the fossil candidate
to dust in one fell swoop. Add to this, the official refusal to even publish
the photo and papers advocating its consideration as a possible fossil, and
one is left bewildered by the direct contradiction between the Schultz statement
and the actions of the rover team concerning this fossil candidate.
When it comes to the detection of life, past or present, beyond
Earth, NASA and its clergy spout dogma and rhetoric as opposed to conducting
science. The 'search for life' appears to be used solely as a carrot to entice
the American taxpayer continually to fund "the NEXT mission."
Science is observation and experiment, not the destruction of
evidence followed by post-destruction denial that it ever existed. That is
dogma at best. )))
The identification of fossils is often difficult, explained Ron
Greeley, Mars Exploration Rover team scientist from Arizona State University
in Tempe, even by scientists observing them with the full spectrum of lab
((( Who is this article written for, dead cavemen? This fossil candidate
is not difficult to see. In fact, it is so obvious that any life 'scientist'
at NASA -- like Dr. Andrew Knoll, of Harvard, the only official 'paleontologist'
on the entire rover team -- who looked at it and didn't say, "Hey, what's
that!?" is 'qualifications suspect.' )))
"Remember that fossils are defined as the traces -- such as leaf imprints
in rocks, or the remains, such as shells or bones -- of formerly living organisms.
Typically, recognizable patterns are sought, such as bilateral symmetry," Greeley
told SPACE.com . "Unfortunately, similar patterns often occur in rocks that
result from non-biological processes, which make the identification more difficult."
((( In other words, if you've seen the picture of the fossil, don’t
trust your eyes. In fact, it's very possible you will never be able to recognize
another fossil in your life unless we, the gods of NASA, confirm it for you.
On Mars, Greeley said, there is no reason to expect the same
patterns as fossils that are seen on Earth. Nonetheless, patterns of some
sort are being formulated by the astrobiological community -- so-called biomarkers
-- in the on-going search for life elsewhere. Furthermore, while the Athena
science gear onboard the two Mars rover are great assets, "analyzing
patterns and other features remotely is not so easy," he added.
For Greeley, Mars fossil hunting has a bottom line: Unless something
really obvious pops out in the images and/or other information, "it's
going to take a while to sift through the data and derive some clear answer."
((( Something obvious HAS popped out and it's also obvious that NASA and
Space.com are trying really hard not to look through the microscopic imager!
The fossil like appearance is SO obvious, that they really don't want to
show it to you because if they did, you would see how obvious it is for yourself.
They are, in effect, telling you, the reader, they don't trust you to be
able to judge this image for yourself. Now who's the paranoid ones? Galileo,
say it isn't so... )))
There is a lot of interest in trying to see fossils in the Mars
rover images, Greeley said. "The team is looking at the data fairly
rigorously, but nothing has emerged along these lines."
((( The ‘team’ Greeley speaks of must be the Life Detected
Containment Team <LDCT>. Any team of objective biologists or paleontologists
searching for signs of past or current life would by now be yelling at the
top of their lungs between jumps in the air, “Hey, what’s that?!" )))
Preserved in stone
Prior to 21st century astronauts putting foot and exploration
flag down on Mars, there is much that can be done remotely. Future on-the-surface
rovers are already being designed, profoundly more capable than the golf
cart-sized Spirit and Opportunity.
"Ultimately, it will take sample return of any putative 'fossils' to convince
the scientists of the world. But we can tell a lot in situ (on-the-spot) before
such a time," said James Garvin NASA (news - web sites) Lead Scientist for
Mars and Lunar Exploration in the Office of Space Science at the space agency's
headquarters in Washington, D.C.
((( You see, for NASA to confirm life, past or present, it's always the
NEXT mission. James Garvin has credentials and a government paycheck. He’s
official, so he is the authority. Leave it to the clergy of the New Official
Church Of Science to tell us what we don’t see with our own eyes. When
he says, 'scientists,' he means, 'officially sanctioned and ordained scientists.'
Most of these are usually on the government payroll either directly or indirectly.
“The American public has … been heavily indoctrinated to trust authority,
and scientific authority in particular. Psychology experiments have shown that
people will often trust the word of authority figures over their own eyes, particularly
when confronted with phenomena outside their experience.”
-- Terry Hansen -- )))
Garvin, a long-time fossil hunter himself, cautioned about the
definition of the word.
((( Oh, now WE might even be confused about the word 'fossil.' This article
belongs in the fourth grade of a failing government indoctrination center,
not an adult science publication. Such is the sorry state of our 'educated'
public at the beginning of the twenty first century that many will buy this
article as the authoritative word that no fossil candidate has been found
on Mars. )))
Fossils come in many varieties, Garvin advised, from the micro-
and nano-fossils of single-celled primitive microbes, to preserved-in-stone
bones of organisms as big as automobiles.
((( How about as big as a football field? We have fossils on earth as
big as a greyhound bus. Or is that T-Rex at the entrance to the Denver Museum
of Natural History fake? Why couldn't some fossils be as big as a football
field on other planets -- particularly those with much less gravity, like
Mars ...? )))
"Searching for fossils also comes in many flavors, from microscopic siftings
through tiny grains, to overland reconnaissance for suitable bedding settings
to uncover bones," Garvin said.
Microscopic to macroscopic
Assuming that Mars rover data confirms the existence of sedimentary
systems of rocks on Mars, searching for fossils can then take many forms,
Garvin related. "One would involve the recognition that depositional
environments were interrupted and that they are preserved at scales ranging
from microscopic to macroscopic."
On Earth, such "preservational" environments are almost always
sedimentary, but can include volcanic and impact 'sedimentary' environments.
"So, if the kind of putative sedimentary deposits we have identified on
Mars from orbit are validated, then we can gainfully start our first searches
for at least indirect, morphological (form and structure of plants and animals)
signs of life in such localities," Garvin suggested.
((( After reading this, I’m not sure the Mars rovers are capable
of determining signs of life if a MacDonald’s Happy Meal sack blew
I really wonder how NASA expects to validate 'putative sedimentary
deposits' from orbit when it can't get the colors right even with the aid
of a color chart and extensive Earth-based testing. NASA wants to validate
'putative sedimentary deposits' from orbit but it destroys, without as much
as a second thought, a fossil candidate within inches of a rover's camera.
It's getting warm in here. I'd say the temp is about 451 Fahrenheit. )))
However, expecting fossil formation to operate on Mars the same
way as it does on Earth is not a sure bet, Garvin pointed out.
((( Wait. This is very important. Garvin
is telling us that even the basic laws of geology and physics could be radically – unrecognizably
-- different on Mars, so different that we cannot trust that something ‘looking’ like
a ‘fossil’ really is a fossil …on Mars. But, if
this is the case, then how has NASA reached any valid scientific
conclusions about anything its discovered …‘out there’ --
including its recent flat assertion that there are ‘no indications
of past or present life?!’ They can’t have it both ways -- simultaneously.
Nooks and crannies
The recent finding by the Opportunity Mars rover of a very high
concentration of sulfur in the rock outcrop at Meridiani Planum bodes well
for biology and fossil hunting. The chemical form of this sulfur appears
to be in magnesium, iron or other sulfate salts
Moreover, Mars is rich in landscape where vestiges of life may
"My overall fossil-hunting bias is heavily weighted to natural caves and
fissures and overhangs," said Penelope Boston, Director, Cave and Karst
Studies Program at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro,
New Mexico. "I know from personal experience how these environments serve
as both original home for organisms and as great places to preserve the evidence," she
"I'm particularly excited about the sulfate results because so much of the
material we are looking at is in sulfur rich caves where gypsum and other sulfate
minerals play a huge role in the biology and the subsequent preservation of traces
of that biology," Boston observed.
Along with caves, Boston said some top-notch nooks and crannies
on Earth to look for fossils are in things with vertical relief that slices
down through layers, like canyon walls, fault escarpments, and river/stream
outflow channels. For Mars and other crater-rich environments, obviously
crater walls where things are excavated down to some deeper strata are first-rate
"The best thing about these places is that large -- as in macroscopic --
buried fossilized material is usually weathering out of the outcrops. One can
see them laying about and follow the fragments to the source," Boston said. "For
microscopic fossils, of course, no clear obvious clues are usually present. The
exception is large scale microbial mats like those that made stromatolites and
algal travertiles and tufa."
Happy hunting ground
Thanks to picture-taking Mars orbiters, snapshots of Newton Basin
on Mars reveal it to be a site where ponded standing water appears to have
been present, Boston said. That landscape feature is a great place to look
for significant sedimentary rocks, "not to mention Martian critter remains," she
"That kind of a no-doubt-about-it pond with minimal shallow excavation could
be a goldmine of microfossil material! I'd want to sample its beautiful rims...and
do a small core down through the middle somewhere," Boston explained.
Another promising happy hunting ground for biologists on Mars
may be in the cracks within so-called patterned ground or polygonal terrain.
((( How about the rocky ledge where NASA destroyed the first fossil candidate?
I would say that rocky ledge should be prime target number one. )))
"On Earth, the bottoms of these cracks can house organisms in a much more
pleasant environment than the surface at large. Obviously, if such communities
thrive or thrived on Mars, some of the evidence may well be at the bottom of
these cracks," Boston said. "We have much imaging evidence of these
terrains on Mars for comparison to the similar terrains here on Earth, not just
at the poles but many other high latitude and high altitude places."
Place your bets
So far there have been no shouts of "eureka!" from Mars rover scientists
spotting a signature of past or present life.
((( That’s because these are political scientists, or spineless
scientists intimidated and fearful of shouting "eureka." These
people are under orders and standing policies. Some are on the government ‘keep
you mouth shut’ payroll, while others are constrained by peer pressure
to stick to the dogma that has been crumbling around their feet for decades.
"I flat out see no evidence for any fossils in our data," said Jim
Rice, a Mars Exploration Rover team scientist and a planetary geologist from
Arizona State University in Tempe. "If a trilobite, for example, evolved
on Mars and we came across a rock with it, we could resolve it."
((( Rice could 'resolve' a trilobite on Mars, but not a Crinoid!!! Somebody
hold me back! Take this club out of my hands! Someone please calm down my
Rice, doesn't have the scientific integrity or courage to contact
Richard C. Hoagland. If Rice is unaware of MER Opportunity microscopic imager
:: Sol 034, then his statements in Space.com are uninformed. If he is aware
of the images, then he is deceitful. These images are on the JPL website,
Dr. Rice, at
Have a look at image
Just look though the microscope that 21st century technology
and the hard working American taxpayers have provided you, Dr. Rice. Then
tell me "flat out," that you "see no evidence for any fossils," in
that specific image. Now access Richard C. Hoagland's paper on this fossil
candidate for comparisons to terrestrial Crinoids here...
Someone help Galileo back to his chair. Could someone please
turn down the heat? It's hot enough in here to burn a book. )))
Rice noted that the twin Mars rover's each carry a Microscopic
Imager. It has a resolution of 30 microns per pixel. That device, however,
has the ability to only see objects that are about 100 microns across and
above, he added.
"Fossil finding will be a very difficult job on Mars. I don't think robotic
missions will do it," Rice said. "It will take astronauts and even
then it will be a tough job," he said.
((( Right... The NEXT mission... I don't know why we are sending these
robots up there. They can't get the color right. They goof up and return
positives on life detection experiments. They image these really weird things
at gross resolutions; unable to retarget them at 1.3 meter resolutions. That
very special resolution capability seems to be reserved for everything that
isn't out of the ordinary. See Note (2). )))
And that job ahead most likely means drilling and cracking a
lot of rocks open. On Earth, Rice added, even when you go to a known fossil
field location it still requires work to find them.
((( It’s my recollection that many amazing dinosaur fossils have
been found simply lying on the ground or sticking up out of the ground. But
I’m sure I need an official government paid scientician to confirm
that for me. )))
"We are a lot farther along in the game now that we have identified a rock
outcrop on Mars that involved liquid water. We still have much to learn about
where to go for any future fossil hunting on Mars."
((( How about sticking with the rocky outcrop? Fossils are like deer about
to jump in front of your truck. Where there's one, there's at least two.
Slow down and look around. Turn that grinder into a cutting pick and hammer
and do some really challenging steering and some really exciting fossil hunting.
But, no, we’re about to leave this –now demonstrated — scientifically unique rocky
outcrop in ‘Eagle Crater’ ... and drive thousands of feet across
this Martian plain to an even larger crater, in hopes of finding ‘something
scientifically more interesting.’ Which, given what has happened, NASA
is just as likely to destroy – either by design … or ignorance.
"It will be sheer luck if robots discover conclusive evidence for fossils
on Mars," Rice said, making the point: "I am putting my bets on astronauts."
((( You can count your lucky stars, Dr. Rice, because the MER robot Opportunity
has imaged a credible fossil candidate. You only have to look at it. Space.com
could print it along with the Hoagland paper, but that would be open, and
objective science conflicting with the internal policies, rituals and dogma
of the New Church of Official Science.
Dr. Rice, I'm sure you and your family would benefit nicely from
such a nationally funded program to send humans to Mars, but, quite frankly,
I'm about taxed out. The thought of paying for your mortgage doesn't thrill
me when I consider that we, the American taxpayers, have already paid for
the NEXT missions that are on and orbiting Mars now and that are returning
science you are ignoring. You and your scientician cohorts at NASA are refusing
to consider data when indications of life, past or present, are clearly detected
by both experiment and image.
Science, Dr. Rice. You and NASA should try it sometime. )))
Copyright © 2004 SPACE.com
+ + + + +
Notes for IGNORING FOSSILS ON MARS
(1) Regarding the rendering of colors on Mars:
"To calibrate Mars' colors, the twin Spirit and Opportunity rovers rely
on a small color-coded key carried on their backs. This square 'Mars dial' displays
in each corner a chip, similar to a paint store's color sample, of known shades
of red, green, blue or yellow.
... Each dial, known as a calibration target, also contains three
concentric rings in varying shades of gray, which allows scientists to understand
what Mars' black-and-white tones should look like.
The entire target "is essentially a photographer's color chart," said
Jim Bell of Cornell University, lead scientist for Pancam, the panoramic
camera aboard each rover.
Before the rovers went to Mars, each Pancam photographed the
calibration targets again and again, working to understand how different
lighting, dust or other conditions could affect the appearance of Martian
-- "'Mars red' is open to interpretation," By Alexandra Witze,
The Dallas Morning News, February 22, 2004 --
Incredibly, after all this time and expense, NASA comes right
out and says all that effort and taxpayer money is wasted because color is
beyond our rocket science to render accurately!
"What Mars looks like is very much in the eye of the beholder."
-- Michael Malin, Malin Space Science Systems, 'Mars red' is
open to interpretation, The Dallas Morning News, February 22, 2004 --
"No one can say for certain what color Mars is. ... No two people see color — and
no two computer monitors display color — in precisely the same way."
-- Alexandra Witze, 'Mars red' is open to interpretation, The
Dallas Morning News, February 22, 2004 --
"... There was no reason for the Spirit to see pink on Mars. When producing
the panorama ... "We just made a mistake. It's really just a mess-up."
-- James Bell, the lead scientist for the camera Spirit rover, "How
did the red planet turn pink?" by Kenneth Chang, New York Times, February
12, 2004 "
"... Even the color chips placed on the rover to calibrate the color photographs
had shifted. What should be bright blue is instead bright pink; what should be
bright green is brown."
-- "How did the red planet turn pink?" by Kenneth Chang, New York
Times, February 12, 2004 --
So at least we have identified an area of the space budget we
can cut back without impacting objective, factual science. If accurately
rendering colors on Mars is beyond our science, let's cut all the color related
equipment and activity from the materials and to-do lists.
It is my understanding this color issue will be revisited by
the Enterprise Mission with updated material in the near future.
(2) Regarding the NEXT mission:
Let me quote from my article, "NASA Running Scared: Shooting the Messenger," at
which I said,
"NASA always holds out the promise that the next mission might reveal that
life once existed on Mars ... Dr. Gil Levin's LR team answered that question
in 1976 with their life detection experiment aboard Viking.
"It's hard to imagine why such bullet-proof evidence was denied for such
a long time, and why those so vigorously denying it never did so by meeting the
science, but merely by brushing it away. Of course, now that it must be acknowledged
by all that there is liquid water on the surface of Mars, this starts those denying
the validity of the Mars LR data down the slippery slope leading to life."
-- Dr. Gil Levin, Chief Project Scientist on the Viking Labeled
"Every time our Mars landers and orbiters find evidence of previous life
or current life, the discovery is dismissed with the wave of a hand, not science
... For NASA and its contractors, it's always the NEXT mission, the NEXT round
of appropriations of taxpayer dollars that might yield the great discovery.
"I submit that the next mission is not needed. All we need to do is utilize
the current missions. From our orbiters: retarget those areas of exceptional
interest for a high-res, multiple angle look. From our rovers: more fossil hunting
and water-table digging. Let's inspect the undersides of those rocks a bit closer."
*** end ***