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Space Earth Science

NASA's LCROSS Spacecraft Discovers Life On Earth 171

Posted by timothy
from the that-was-the-control-group dept.
Matt_dk writes "On Saturday, Aug. 1, 2009, the LCROSS spacecraft successfully completed its first Earth-look calibration of its science payload. 'The Earth-look was very successful' said Tony Colaprete, LCROSS project scientist. 'The instruments are all healthy and the science teams was able to collect additional data that will help refine our calibrations of the instruments.' During the Earth observations, the spacecraft's spectrometers were able to detect the signatures of the Earth's water, ozone, methane, oxygen, carbon dioxide and possibly vegetation."
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NASA's LCROSS Spacecraft Discovers Life On Earth

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @07:44PM (#28965499)

    Turns out they were just over Detroit.

  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@lynx.b c . ca> on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @07:45PM (#28965513) Journal
    "possibly vegetation"

    I almost fell out of my chair when I read this

    • Re:What gets me.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tenco (773732) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @08:16PM (#28965829)
      Well, I don't know what they actually do, but i would look for a dip in the spectrum of the planet's albedo were the spectrum of the nearest star has a maximum.
    • by cgenman (325138) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @08:56PM (#28966161) Homepage

      We still have vegitation down here? Someone better tell Captain McCrea.

    • I dunno. Given a little more jungle clearing, and a little more urban sprawl - we may just get rid of all the pesky vegetation within a couple more decades. I guess we can examine the idea of electrolysis for our oxygen. No biggie, I imagine.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by woodchip (611770)
        Don't worry, all the extra C02 in the atmosphere will cause more vegatation to grow.
      • by shiftless (410350)

        Have you ever even been to Earth?

        It's nowhere even close to being cleared of vegetation.

        • Ahem. Yah. I exaggerated a little, maybe. But, take a look around you. If you live in the US, east of the Mississippi, it is a pretty sure bet that you live on old forest land? Virgin forest, without houses, roads, factories, schools, and government buildings. Literally millions of trees have been cut down to make way for people. There should be a Google map or some such thing, showing how deforestation of the earth has progressed over the last - ohhh - 300 years maybe. Even the last 100 years would

    • by grrrl (110084)

      well I thought it said vegetarians - they are different, for sure...

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by DriedClexler (814907)

      "Yes! We did it! We did it! After years of searching, billions of dollars invested, and being subject to endless ridicule, we finally achieved our mission! We now have incontrovertible proof of intraterrestrial life!"

      "Um ... dude ... I think the goal is to find extraterrestrial life."

  • by Usually Unlucky (1598523) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @07:45PM (#28965525)
    We should mount a robotic mission to this place right away.
  • by DrYak (748999) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @07:46PM (#28965543) Homepage

    At the same time, we're still waiting from the SETI's calibration and observation to discover any trace of *Intelligence* on earth.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Aladrin (926209)

      I know you're joking, but there -have- been positives from SETI that actually came from Earth, so... It has.

  • And I, for one, welcome our new vegetation overlords.
  • by MrKaos (858439) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @07:51PM (#28965589) Journal
    The search for intelligent life continues...
  • Sadly, (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hawthorne01 (575586) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @07:52PM (#28965603)
    ... none of it was intelligent.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @07:52PM (#28965605)

    It's life, Jim, just as we know it, just as we know it, Jim.

    Beam me sideways, Scotty, nobody on this planet knows which way is up.

  • by rufty_tufty (888596) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @07:58PM (#28965659) Homepage

    2 predictions:
    * Lots of slashdot users trying to post something witty about why this is a new story
    * trolls saying how this is everything we should expect and therefore should ignore.

    to all those who disengaged their brain I ask, what would you do in their position? Hope your instruments work as designed without testing them? Either way, please devise a better test for life as we know it than life as we know it.

    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by fiannaFailMan (702447)

      2 predictions:
      * Lots of slashdot users trying to post something witty about why this is a new story
      * trolls saying how this is everything we should expect and therefore should ignore.

      to all those who disengaged their brain I ask, what would you do in their position? Hope your instruments work as designed without testing them? Either way, please devise a better test for life as we know it than life as we know it.

      Thank you for being one of the first to post a non-redundant non-predictable post actually worth reading and that adds something to the discussion. I was wondering how much more scrolling I was going to have to do. If I had mod points I'd be making liberal use of the 'redundant', 'off topic' and 'overrated' tags around about now.

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by PaganRitual (551879)

      Well, both your predictions are wrong. It appears that it's simply attracted about 50 people, all of whom think they are the first person to think of the fact that while it found life, NONE OF IT WAS INTELLIGENT HAW HAW HAW. Apparently a sign of intelligent life is realising that your ideas aren't new and that you've likely been beaten to them, therefore all those posters comments were self-prophecising. Well done chaps.

      At any rate, this is a new story because, err ... it wanted to get to the other side. D

      • by rufty_tufty (888596) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @08:27PM (#28965923) Homepage

        >While we're at it, shouldn't we be spending this money on feeding the starving

        No, because there'll always be starving. I wish humanity/life was otherwise I really do, but I don't see a long term solution where resources are finite and the exponential function is applicable.

        • My sarcasm attempts were obviously terrible. I was just fufilling your predictions for you and then adding in a bonus bullshit comment that normally gets digitally vomited into comments about expensive and cool space applicatons of science. I don't give a shit about the starving people, I want to get humanity into space. Preferably all the idiots. Or they can stay here. Either way, there is a lot of room out there, and it sucks to be stuck in this pale blue dot with all these fucktards.

        • Um... Exponential growth also applies to the plants and animals that we eat, and technology has made crops even more productive than in the past. I have heard figures like for every time the number of humans triples, the quantity of foodstuffs quadruples. Starvation is a distribution problem, not a resource problem.

          At least for now. There may come a time when the planet is so teeming with people that the limited area of farmable land (even with floating oceanic vertical hydroponic greenhouses) will not
      • While we're at it, shouldn't we be spending this money on feeding the starving?

        Money doesn't feed people. We already have more than enough food to feed everyone on earth. The problem is the lack of a will to do so.

    • by Dragonslicer (991472) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @08:25PM (#28965905)

      2 predictions: * Lots of slashdot users trying to post something witty about why this is a new story * trolls saying how this is everything we should expect and therefore should ignore.

      Um, this is Slashdot. That's like betting that a coin toss will be either heads or tails.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by metaforest (685350)

      Personally I don't think anyone questioned the QA value of pointing the science instruments at the earth to calibrate them.

      Trolls aside, Captain Obvious, what DID you expect?

      Stunned-to-silence wonderment?

  • by Tangamandapiano (1087091) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @08:02PM (#28965685)
    Doesn't it suffer from a serious risk of overfitting?
  • I really thought it was an Onion article...

  • A far more interesting result would have been if they hadn't been able to detect life on Earth as the inability to do so from such a close distance would make detecting Earth-like life elsewhere in the galaxy a laughable prospect.

    • not so much laughable as depressing imo.. the last thing we need are delays in this sort of thing, we should be out there exploring by now. so this is good news.

    • A far more interesting result would have been if they hadn't been able to detect life on Earth as the inability to do so from such a close distance would make detecting Earth-like life elsewhere in the galaxy a laughable prospect.

      Free oxygen is a pretty good indicator for life. Its just that this spacecraft doesn't work that way.

  • by anonymousNR (1254032) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @08:03PM (#28965705) Homepage
    .. that if our machine can identify life on Earth all by itself, then we can possibly send it somewhere and it might be able to detect another planet or moon which has Earth-like life.
  • Incorrect Title (Score:4, Insightful)

    by solarium_rider (677164) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @08:04PM (#28965715)
    It should be: NASA' LCROSS Spacecraft Discovers Earth-Like Life On Earth
    • by tenco (773732)
      Still wrong. It should be: NASA LCROSS Spacecraft Discovers Minshara class planet in the solar system. ;)
    • Uh, NASA' really should be NASA's, you know.
    • by Jugalator (259273)

      Not even that. It discovers nothing about life, and certainly not whether it's Earth-like or not, just signatures of life in an atmosphere. For all we know, if that would be due to life, it could very well be extremely non-Earth like, just sharing the characteristic of producing similar atmospheric signatures.

  • In other news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by euxneks (516538) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @08:13PM (#28965799)

    NASA discovers light from the sun, and no atmosphere on the moon.

    Could the summary be any more vacuous? It could have been a bit more explanatory about the nature of the satellite. (i.e. to find water on the moon - source: http://lcross.arc.nasa.gov/mission.htm [nasa.gov])

    • if the satellite did establish that the moon has no atmosphere then that would be a legitimate advancement of scientific knowledge, because at the moment the consensus is that it does have one. [wikipedia.org]
  • been done before (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jschen (1249578) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @08:21PM (#28965863)
    The spacecraft Galileo, on its way to Jupiter, performed a related experiment back in 1990. Details were published in Nature [nature.com]
  • LCrOSS (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Note to spacefellowship:

    I'm going to save google some bandwidth and expand the acronym:

    LCrOSS=lunar crater observation & sensing satellite

  • Pointless calibration.

    So, they just calibrated their instruments to detect massive urbanization, a huge population, and massive amounts of water?!

    They should be calibrating for FAR weaker readings, unless they expect to find a civilization just as obvious as ours.

    Heck, all they would have needed to do is walk outside, or at least calibrate their instruments to detect far FAR less of what they are looking for.

    • by HonIsCool (720634)
      They are not trying or expecting to find any civilizations! They are trying to find water on the moon!
  • .' During the Earth observations, the spacecraft's spectrometers were able to detect the signatures of the Earth's water, ozone, methane, oxygen, carbon dioxide and possibly vegetation."

    Just to see a Fart-in-a-jar.

  • A experiment to detect intellegent life couldn't be tested before sending into space.
  • Oil? (Score:5, Funny)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @09:31PM (#28966471) Journal

    detect the signatures of the Earth's water, ozone, methane, oxygen, carbon dioxide and possibly vegetation

    What? No oil detector? This thing is useless!

  • by crath (80215) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @11:44PM (#28967437) Homepage

    ...if it had found "intelligent life" that would have been a false positive.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So it mentions that they detect levels of methane, oxygen, carbon dioxide, etc. etc.

    In an uninhabited planet, methane and oxygen are two completely incompatible chemicals (over a time period which is considered tiny on astronomical scales, these two chemicals to react to form carbon dioxide.) Therefore, the coexistence of methane and oxygen implies that a process is actively forming these two molecules, so that an equilibrium is reached between production and decay. This process, in other words, is photosyn

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