Extraterrestrial Life on Mars: Its Impact on our World
Until recent decades, the dominant thinking of all mankind was that we are alone in the universe. However, the initiation and seriousness that space researchers are giving to the quest of finding life in other planets has influenced our regard for the idea. Today, we are now accepting this probability. A world-changing event would be if they announce that their investigations have finally revealed the actual existence of extraterrestrial life.
The only planet in our solar system considered for this possibility is Mars. Although ice was the only form of water yet discovered, Mars’ location in a zone where it is neither too hot nor too cold allows for water to be in its liquid state (Kruger, 2007). The planet’s ancient history also reveals that its atmosphere was thicker and its temperature much higher than it is today and that it had rivers, floods and volcanic activity (Davies, 2003). All of these are favor the formation of life.
Finding biological organisms, even in their simplest forms, on Mars will drastically alter the way we think, the way we regard ourselves, our place in the universe and our aims in the future. As it also intensifies the anticipation that intelligent alien beings may also exist, it will transform fields of human endeavor such as science, medicine, religion, philosophy, art, and social relationships – our very existence beyond the imaginable.
Science in general, as a body of knowledge, will radically expand as extraterrestrial life will provide the impetus for a host of other scientific inquiries. The gray areas of the unknown will diminish. Disciplines that only until this discovery had subject matter that was existed only in imagination will be established. Chemistry, physics, geology and other fields of science will all need to find their applications in outer space. This will cause a frenzy of human activity, practice and further theory which will be hoped to finally determine the origin of life.
The discovery of life in Mars will suggest that life does not abound only on earth. It will broaden the subfields of biology to include a full-blown science of astrobiology. Plants, animals, marine life, microorganisms, molecules or evolution in our terrestrial domain will cease to be the only objects of study. It would also include the biomarkers and forms of life in other planets, the effects of extraterrestrial environments on living organisms, the adaptations of such organisms and methods of detecting and studying life among others (NASA STI, 2008).
Likewise, the medical field will also be prompted to exert more effort in research concerning the effects of interstellar travel on human health. Peculiar conditions in outer space such as rocket flight, prolonged weightlessness, restricted diets, hygiene, lack of sunlight, exposure to cosmic radiation, limited mobility and social interaction will inevitably affect the wellbeing of travelers (Lunar and Planetary Institute, 2009). This is expected to fuel the development of technologies in medicine catering to the needs of these persons.
Evidence of life on Mars will mean that the evolutionary process that resulted in our development as Homo sapiens is not unique. However, the distinct environments in different planets will also require different mechanisms of adaptation resulting in organisms that are extremely different in anatomical and physiological characteristics. This now constitutes an added challenge to the complex and largely unanswered questions that we already have concerning our own evolution.
The decades of time, money and effort spent on space studies will finally pay off if the reality of Martian life is proven. NASA and other related agencies will continue to lead space research. More space missions will be planned and conducted. Astronomy and related sciences will increasingly become offered as a tertiary course and future career.
Extraterrestrial life will also usher in a new era of philosophical thinking. As our identity that we are the sole and superior beings in the universe is threatened, a rationalization of how this crisis came about, proof that it is a valid problem and how we are going to cope with it is necessary in order to achieve stability in society. Our identity will begin to evolve from being based on nationality to being based on the planet we live in. Discourse will also extend to the motivations for finding habitable planets and how society will be organized to equally partake of the benefits of this pursuit.
The reality of extraterrestrial life poses a challenge to the Creation as an act of God to establish life exclusively on Earth. Current religion teaches us that God designed the world and humans as special beings to inhabit it (Davies, 2003). Since no mention of a Creation outside Earth has been made in the Bible, simple life forms on Mars will force religious organizations to redefine current doctrines in order to construct its theological basis, concerns that they have been previously reluctant to address.
Moreover, the belief in the existence of a God will most likely be unsettled. If alien life cannot be established to have a connection with God in Biblical passages believed to be His Word, then the very concept of a Supreme Being as all-knowing, omnipotent and ruler of the universe will crumble. God would become not a separate entity from us but a human creation.
Most importantly, the knowledge of life on Mars will affect human relations. It emphasizes that life is varied and there is a need to accept the differences of other people or beings. Finally, it will unite people by their common interests concerning outer space. Countries will pool human, technological and material resources in a collaborative effort to explore the unknown.
List of References
Davies, P. (2003). “E.T. and God: Could Earthly Religions Survive the Discovery of Life Elsewhere in the Universe?”. The Atlantic Monthly 292(September 2003). Retrieved from http://www.questia.com article database.
Kruger, P. (2007). Mars Water Find Raises Possibility of Life. Retrieved 13 April 2009 from http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2007/s1874092.htm.
Lunar and Planetary Institute (2009). Effects of Space on the Human Body. Retrieved 13 April 2009 from http://www.lpi.usra.edu/education/explore/space_health/.
NASA Scientific and Technical Information (2008). Exobiology. Retrieved 13 April 2009 from http://www.sti.nasa.gov/sscg/55.html.