Europe and Russia just launched a Mars space mission to sniff out signs of life

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Did you say “sniff out”? Our mission briefing says “snuff out”? Dammit.



…and you beat me to it…

Well, we could try to bullshit the politicos that there are terrorists on Mars. We’d have a base there in no time. A military one but a base neverthless.

Occupy Mars!


I really, really hope we don’t find life anywhere else in the solar system. Especially not complex, macroacopic, or (God forbid) intelligent life. Because if that happened on two of nine planets around a single normal star, it would mean the Great Filter is almost certainly mostly in our future and not our past.

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Hey, there are already plans to send scruffy-lookin’ beardy engineers and pink-n-purple-haired nerd girls.

And you know you can’t trust those types. You never know what they might blow up.


The great filter is based on the idea that established intelligent life would be easy to spot and so must not be common. That’s quite the assumption. If we discovered that there has been intelligent life a mere 0.000008 light-years away this whole time, I would think it strong evidence of the opposite, that it is probably common but hard to notice even next door.

Meanwhile, though, is anyone else a little annoyed of constantly trying to make all exploration about life? Yes, methane is a sign of life on Earth, with its reactive oxygen-rich atmosphere and evident carbon-based ecosystems. That doesn’t mean you wouldn’t expect it without life on planets without such conditions. We should be able to be interested in Mars for reasons other than invented biology, thank you. If nothing else you’d think prospecting could sell missions.


Moon is closer, and the asteroids aren’t stuck in a gravity well.


I agree with that! So I meant prospecting for things that would be useful in place, should people really want to settle Mars someday, which some seem to. And maybe on the off chance there are things that are hard to find elsewhere. But also as a plausible excuse to keep funding interested in the basic science to be done there, since I get the impression much of the talk of life is really about that anyway.

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The “in situ resource utilization” concept, aka ISRU.



I’d rather tell them that there are terrorists on Pluto

Good idea. Where else would they mine Plutonium?

Somewhere in this exchange is a Uranus joke.


I completely agree with your second paragraph.

To your first paragraph: yes, it isn’t obvious that intelligent life should be easily visible. I certainly don’t think we’d be able or likely to detect a human-level civilization even a few star systems away with any reliability. I don’t care about that. If intelligent life is common and there is no future great filter, there should be many civilizations billions of years old even within the Milky Way. Am I really supposed to believe that none of them have ever done any serious stellar engineering? That none of them colonized the galaxy with generation ships and their equivalent of terraforming?

I don’t care what your biology is, not eventually building billions of Dyson swarms in your home galaxy is at least an interesting choice (either there are totally new principles of physics that make it unnecessary or else the one species that comes along and does it will outcompete you). And that would be visible. There would be vast numbers of apparently dark or infrared or weirdly inconsistently bright stellar-mass entities, and there aren’t. It still reduces to the same set of options: no aliens (early great filter), aliens extinct (future great filter), aliens deliberately hiding, or amazing new physics causes 100% of aliens to never undertake large scale visible stellar engineering projects even in civilizations billions of years old.

Intelligent life on Mars would basically eliminate the first option, which necessarily makes the second more likely, and that is the one outcome I really, really don’t want to find.


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