Some 3 or so weeks ago the MESA lead scientist proclaimed at a press conference that the results of the first MECA wet chemistry test had found the phoenix soil to be eminently habitable (by earthlings presumably) and had also turned up some intruiging results which they were in the process of corroborating through further tests at the phoenix sites and at home. Two days ago there was another press conference at which the MECA team was noticeably absent. There was however a cryptic question on their absence and a hint that the Phoenix MECA team had got some dramatic results which had been shared with the Presidential Science advisors before it could be passed on to the public. Since then Craig Covault, a very reputable AeroSpace Science reporter, has published an article claiming that the MECA results have indeed been passed on to the White House and that they have to do with confirmed findings of habitability from 3 further MECA tests on different soil samples at Phoenix and that the interactions between mars soil and water in the MECA wet chemistry test is key to the importance of the results. It was also suggested that it may take another month or so before a disclosure of the results is likely to be made.
While we have not been privy to the scientific data emerging from the TEGA, TECP and MECA tests, many of the members of this board have been following the daily releases from the Phoenix site and are likely to have an informed opinion on these matters.
This is an attempt to put all the thoughts and speculations on this matter in one place and see what we can come up with re. the possible importance of the Craig Covault revelations and the MECA results.
For instance, I think that a finding which suggests that the North Polar region of Mars is inherently habitable by Man without the need for extremely expensive terraforming is the most important Scientific finding of this century and perhaps of the last century also.
If MECA has found conditions there that suggests such habitability with just the need for simple pressurized habitations and no need to bring in soil and water and perhaps other nutrients, then MECA would have found one of the Holy Grails of Space exploration.
If so it is no wonder that the NASA heads would have rushed to clear any further disclosure with the White House. There are many areas to discuss related to this.
In addition, before the disclosure comes, if it ever comes, there are a lot of areas which are ripe for speculation as to what actually MECA could have found. Was it NH3 ions? Was it Nucleotides? Was it Carbonate ions? etc. etc.
Hoping that some of the people who dropped out will drop in to join this discussion and a special invitation to Stu, who, as a journalist, must recognize this as the possibility of being the Space Adventurers' Holy Grail and must be seriously constrained by the rules on the other forum.
Can anyone see moneys being provided to fast track these studies to have a man on Mars before 2012?
How do the Russians and the Chinese come into this?
Phoenix is an international Mission with the Elephant in the room being the USA and minor roles being played by Canada and Europe. Would this international composition of the team guarantee full disclosure?
There are many unexplored facets to this story that could be explored such as the increasing possibility that there is current microbial life there at the phoenix site.
Anyone care to comment?