NASA’s Curiosity rover made big headlines earlier this month when it touched down on the surface of our neighboring red planet, and along with the headlines came a renewed interest in the age-old question: “Is there life on Mars?”
Curiosity’s goal of exploring whether or not Mars could have ever supported life was determined long ago by the Mars Exploration Program, and Curiosity was built accordingly with microscopes, x-ray spectrometers, drills and even lasers to examine the surface for water and other building blocks of life. In a recent article however, The Wall Street Journal thoughtfully reminds us that items as simple as the rover’s cameras can also provide us with valuable avenues of exploring the question at hand.
In an interview with George J. Haas, author of The Martian Codex, journalist Erica E. Phillips highlights the academic history of looking for signs of martian life in photographs that appear to show intelligently designed sculpture. Haas, former president of the Sculptors Association of New Jersey, reminds readers that past photos have revealed features like a parrot-shaped rock formation with “17 points of anatomical correctness” and gave us the famous “face on Mars” photo taken in 1976. He says there’s no reason to doubt that Curiosity will also send back photos with more formations to examine.
In honor of Curiosity’s landing, we are giving away a free copy of Mr. Haas’s book The Martian Codex, a must-have manual for anyone looking for artistic signs of life on Mars. See details below for entry.