Copyright 2012 Robert Clark
I was watching “This Week at NASA” after the Curiosity landing. I was interested in how the voice-over describing the landing phrased the life on Mars question. It said Curiosity will try to determine if the conditions are right for microbial life to exist on Mars:
Curiosity Has Landed! on This Week @NASA.
It was notable to me this was phrased in the present tense, not for microbial life to have existed on Mars, but to exist on Mars. Since Viking with the general consensus that the current life on Mars question was answered in the negative, usually NASA missions were described as only determining if life could have existed in the past on Mars, not the present.
On the “NASA360″ episode shown this week, the NASA scientist interviewed Dr. Bruce Jakosky of the Curiosity and upcoming MAVEN Mars missions described them also as determining if conditions are right for life to exist on Mars, present tense:
NASA 360 Season 3, Show 19.