By Tim Binnall
The chief scientist for NASA says that the discovery of life on Mars may only be a couple of years away and expressed concern over how such a find would be received here on Earth. The intriguing comments were reportedly made by Dr. Jim Green in an interview with a British newspaper over the weekend. He explained that the summer of 2021 could be a breakthrough year when it comes to our understanding of Mars as a rover from NASA as well as one from ESA are due to arrive on the Red Planet at that time.
According to Green, the two rovers will be looking for signs of life on Mars by extracting samples from around 7 feet below the surface of the Red Planet and then analyzing them for signs of organic material. Although it remains to be seen if the search will be successful, Green seemed optimistic, yet also a bit worried. "I don't think we're prepared for the results," he opined, revealing that "I've been worried about that because I think we’re close to finding it and making some announcements."
Green did not specifically state exactly why he is uneasy about how the world would react to such news, though one need only look at the current tumultuous state of our planet and imagine how what he calls a "revolutionary" discovery on par with Copernicus determining that the Earth revolved around the sun could serve to exacerbate divisions in our society. Beyond the potential upheaval such a discovery might cause, he observed that finding evidence of life on Mars could transform the scientific community.
"What happens next is a whole new set of scientific questions. Is that life like us? How are we related?," he mused, "can life move from planet-to-planet or do we have a spark and just the right environment and that spark generates life based on the chemical environment that it is in?" While this theoretical life waiting on Mars is likely to be far from the classic depiction of extraterrestrial beings that the public has come to envision, Green was remarkably open to the possibility that such alien intelligence, declaring that "there is no reason to think that there isn’t civilizations elsewhere."