Mr. R.P. spotted this article and passed it along, and it fits with our space-focus of yesterday and today. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory plans to send a probe to Mars whose purpose is to map the insides of the planet:
Of course, we're given the usual "this-is-all-about-pure-science" meme:
A JPL news release Wednesday said InSight will use the seismic waves generated by marsquakes (quakes on Mars) to map the deep interior of the planet. These waves travel through geologic materials at different speeds and reflect off boundaries, giving scientists a glimpse of the composition and structure of the planet’s interior. They reflect the initial formation of the planet, and the resulting insights into how Mars formed should help scientists better understand how other rocky planets are created, including our own Earth.
“The inside of Mars is really a vault that’s storing all of this evidence from the early solar system,” Banerdt tells KPCC. “So, by going and mapping out the inside of Mars, we’re really kind of going back in time, like a time machine, to the earliest stages of the solar system formation so that we can actually understand how our planet got here.”
But as one might imagine, when I saw this article, my suspicion meter shot into the red zone, because besides the usual blather about "pure science" and "geological time machines" and learning "the early history of the solar system," the article said nothing whatsoever about where on the Martian surface this probe will be conducting its "pure science". NASA's own website about InSight is equally less-than-forthcoming about the mission:
There we're told that the landing site is simply "the plains of Mars", which is about as helpful as saying that the probe will be landing somewhere in that planet's northern hemisphere. But a clue is perhaps afforded by the fact that the rocket launching the probe was constructed by two major American defense contractors, but notably, there's zero information on the probe itself:
InSight will launch from Launch Complex 3 and ride atop an Atlas V-401 rocket provided by United Launch Alliance, Centennial Colorado, a joint venture of Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp.
As one can imagine, this lack of any specific information about landing area, who built the probe, plus the presence of two major American defense contractors in the mix, has me entertaining all sorts of interplanetary high octane speculations. And the "pure science" explanations are not part of my high octane speculations for the simple reason that I'm not buying them. After all, for a certain segment of this alternative research community - myself included - NASA stands for "Never A Straight Answer." My problem stems from the fact that one can find intriguing pictures both from Soviet and from American Martian probes that seem to indicate the presence of regular and repeating rectilinearity in certain places on Mars, beneath the surface. Such geometrical features can be an indicator of artificiality and therefore of intelligent origins. Indeed, the Soviets' Phobos 2 Martian probe took some rather thought-provoking images suggestive of subsurface structure (see Richard Hoagland's review of some of these suggestive pictures at Lost CIties of Barsoom). All of this is, of course, suggestive, but not compulsive. What would settle this issue is going there, and mapping such structures (if any). And that, quite frankly, is what I suspect is going on here.
But don't expect any straight answers...
See you on the flip side...