Humans, Not Robots, Will Discover Life on Mars


NASA’s Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan said the only way to find evidence of life on Mars is to send real astronauts rather than robots and she aims to do just that by 2040.

“We’re not looking for skeletons; we’re looking for fossil microbes if life on Mars did indeed go extinct.  And those are going to be hard to find,” she said.

Being a geologist herself, Stofan points out that field geologists here on Earth can study rocks rich in fossil microbes but never see the tiny structures.  Therefore, she thinks robots won’t be able to do the job by themselves.

“Those conditions on Mars, we know, were not that different from the conditions on Earth from when life evolved.  And life evolved so quickly here on Earth, and in the oceans, that it gives the scientific community a fair amount of confidence that the same conditions did exist on Mars, and that life did evolve there.”


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