June 07, 2010
Have We Discovered Evidence for Life on Titan?I met Carolyn Porco, Cassini's Imaging Team Leader at a PopTech several years ago. She is also the Director of CICLOPS/Space Science Institute based in Boulder, CO.
I've always been fascinated by Carolyn's work for two reasons: it's innovation at its best and is changing the world and how we look at the world AND because her orientation is so incredibly different from my own.
I just received an update on what they've been up to. In the last couple of days, the recent Cassini news of a depletion of atmospheric hydrogen in the near-surface environment on Titan -- has caused a firestorm on the web, on Twitter, and elsewhere. She notes that headlines went blaring "Nasa scientists discover evidence that alien life exists on Saturn's moon", and it spread like wild flames.
She writes, "this was the unfortunate result of a knee-jerk rush to sensationalize an exciting but rather complex, nuanced and emotionally-charged issue." In an attempt to press the `reset' button, she has invited Chris McKay, an astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center, to comment on the recent Cassini discoveries, and they have posted his expert commentary on the CICLOPS website. In his commentary, he discusses his assessment of the existence of life on Titan.
They have also added a new feature to their website called 'Making Sense of the News', where scientists, both involved in Cassini and not, will be invited to comment on new developments that bear on the exploration of the solar system and the study of planetary systems, including our own.
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That's funny it spread like it did. That's funny she had to call in Chris McKay for damage control. :)
Posted by: Joseph Smidt | Jun 7, 2010 6:02:50 PM