We’ve previously written about the positions taken by some of the major creationist websites on the existence of extra-terrestrial life. For the granddaddy of all creationist outfits — the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), see ICR Flat-Out Predicts: “No Alien Life Exists”.
For the position of ol’ Hambo, founder of Answers in Genesis (AIG), one of the major sources of young-earth creationist wisdom, see AIG Accepts Possibility of Alien Life. But he’s definitely against the idea of intelligent aliens. He declares that even if they exist (which he doubts) they can’t go to heaven. See Ken Ham v. Vatican Astronomer & Aliens.
And we recently discussed the Discoveroids’ Thoughts about Life on Mars. They’re hoping there’s no life on Mars, which would allow them — from that one data point — to confirm their belief that the emergence of life isn’t a natural process.
Meanwhile, in the real world, the Mars rover Curiosity is scheduled to land this Sunday, 05 August (06 August, very early Monday morning if you’re on the US east coast). The latest news is posted here at the NASA website, and you’ll be able to watch the landing live here.
We found two recent articles about the mission at PhysOrg. The first is Curiosity’s search for organics. It says, with our bold font:
Soon the rover Curiosity will land on Mars. By design it won’t involve life-detection, but it was assembled to look for the carbon-based building blocks of Martian life and to explore the possible habitats where life might once have existed.
That’s enough to terrify the creationists. The article also informs us:
The main instrument for the rover’s astrobiology research is the gold-plated Sample Analysis on Mars, which includes three complex lab tools and is the largest and heaviest (at 88 pounds) on Curiosity. Many of its capabilities are brand new or significant improvements on the Viking instruments [from two earlier landers].
But what most differentiates Curiosity from Viking is probably its landing site: The deep and ancient Gale Crater, which was made accessible to the rover because of vastly improved precision landing techniques. Orbiting satellite imaging has already determined that the crater was covered with water in the past, and that it contains minerals that can only be formed in water as well as clays that also require an H20 environment. What’s more, Curiosity can move around to promising targets and can drill and then bake samples as never before. In other words, the rover will be exploring an area far more likely to contain the building blocks of life than any of the six Mars landers before it.
That’s just a sample of what it says, of course. The other article is NASA confident ahead of nail-biter Mars landing. That one tells us:
If all continues to go well, the unmanned rover will touch down in Gale Crater, one of the lowest points on Mars, where scientists believe the waters of ancient rivers flowing downhill once pooled. The crater also contains a mountain that rises higher than any in the 48 continental US states, and should provide loads of information about the past through its sedimentary layers.
Then the landing is described:
Approaching Mars’ atmosphere at a speed of about 13,200 miles per hour, or 5,900 meters per second, the spacecraft must separate, a supersonic parachute must deploy, then a rocket-powered sky crane must activate to power the vehicle closer to the surface before lowering it with nylon tethers. “It looks a little bit crazy,” Adam Steltzner, chief engineer at JPL, said as he described the final moments before touchdown, which NASA has detailed in a video called “Seven Minutes of Terror.” [You can see that video here.] “I promise you, it is the least crazy of the methods you could use to land a rover the size of Curiosity on Mars,” Steltzner told reporters, adding that using airbags or trying a platform landing were ruled out. “We have become quite fond of it and we are fairly confident that Sunday night will be a good night for us.”
So there you are. Assuming it survives the landing, what will Curiosity find? We don’t know, of course. Like you, we’re eager to find out. But the creationists are quietly terrified. And that adds an element of humor to the whole enterprise.
Update: See Mars Landing Tonight!
See also: AIG Reacts to the Martian Landing.
See also: Discoveroids React to the Martian Landing.
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