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NASA is inching closer to discovering alien life on Mars

Plus: Should Earth invest in a planet-wide flag?

Ural apocalyptic surreal unusual landscape, similar to the surface of the planet Mars. The frozen re...
Aleksandr Zubkov/Moment/Getty Images

If you came down off the high of Earth Day celebrations this weekend feeling a little gloomy about our planet, know you are not alone. It’s easy to see the headlines warning of extreme weather events, unprecedented global warming, rising sea levels, and disappearing permafrost and not think humans have screwed themselves. But Earth is a planet in a vast cosmos. Our planet has been through many changes and life has persisted here — and perhaps elsewhere in the Solar System, too.

It’s a new week, which means a new slate of stories on the James Webb Space Telescope, the hunt for life on Mars, and even a fancy car or two. I’m Claire Cameron, an editor at Inverse, and I’m glad you’re here with us.

This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for Monday, April 25, 2022. Subscribe for free and learn something new every day.

Can’t wait to see it.


How the Webb Telescope will unlock stunning views of the cosmos

Behind Webb’s primary mirror are four vital instruments that allow it to see the universe in wavelengths invisible to the human eye. That golden, honeycomb mirror would be nothing without the detectors that will translate what it sees into valuable scientific observations for astronomers to interpret and reveal to the world.

Recently, all eyes have been on MIRI — this instrument is designed to see comets in unprecedented detail, the earliest galaxies, and more. It also has to operate at an extremely chill 7 degrees Kelvin, and we’ve been waiting for it to cool down so the Webb’s team on Earth can embark on the last stage of preparing the telescope to start science operations. Now, it’s finally cool enough for them to do just that.

And there are the other three vital Webb instruments...

Gotta catch ‘em all.

Now this would be true international space collaboration.


If humans go to Mars, we need an Earth Flag — here’s why

In this opinion essay, Earth Flag designer Oskar Pernefeldt explains why humans need a symbol if they are to succeed as an interplanetary species — on and off Earth. Pernefeldt writes:

“We are approaching the point when humans make the leap off Earth and onto the surfaces of other planets. When we get there, how will we represent ourselves?”

“Since human-crewed spaceflight became a reality in the sixties, space travelers have reported experiencing a cognitive shift after their time above the Earth. In orbit, national borders are no longer apparent, and it becomes clear that all of us back on planet Earth are in this together. Named the Overview Effect, it is, in short, a revelation experienced when seeing Earth from afar.”

“Sadly, this experience is only ever had by a select few. More people might experience this shift in perspective on the ground if they had a clear symbol of Earth as a planetary body. I believe a Planet Earth flag could play an essential part in this change. I firmly believe that every time someone sees this flag, they will know that they are a part of something greater than themselves. As humans, we share the challenges and possibilities of our home planet. We also share the responsibility to sustain this planet so that it can sustain us and all other life here.”

Keep reading.

Can we find life on Mars?


NASA Mars rover embarks on an ambitious hunt for life

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover is scouting an ancient river delta called Three Forks. The sediments there could carry hints of ancient life. According to a Tuesday announcement about the new campaign, this precursor trip will help NASA scientists select the best route to ascend the delta, which rises above the crater floor by about 130 feet (40 meters).

Perseverance is looking for rocks with signatures of ancient Martian organisms, using onboard instruments for on-site measurements while also storing interesting samples for later retrieval and return to Earth.

The 3.9 billion-year-old Jezero Crater has been home for Perseverance since the mission’s epic landing on February 18, 2021. The region was likely home to ancient bodies of water, the key ingredient to life as we know it. If there were microbial life flourishing on Mars in the distant past, the dynamic aquatic environment of the region would have transported rocks and dropped them here, providing an excellent spot for scientists to investigate the history of several nearby corners of the planet at once.

Are there aliens?

This wild Lincoln EV concept has 3 unbelievably awesome features

The new Lincoln Star Concept hints at what the first generation of electric Lincolns will look — and smell — like.

Concept cars are always described in flowery design language, contributor Jordan Golson points out:

The Lincoln Star is no different. Lincoln says it embodies its core tenets of “beauty, human, gliding, and sanctuary.” I see how they get there, but the Star also has a lot of “whoa, that’s awesome!” bits as well.

Still, this may be a sign of things to come, Jordan writes: Lincoln believes more than half of its global volume will be from EVs by the middle of this decade, with three new EVs coming by 2025 and a fourth by 2026. All will be inspired by the Lincoln Star concept.

“Signifying transcendence through both space and time,” explains Lincoln Global Design Director Kemal Curic in a press release, “the concept creates a sense of peace and serenity within an electric experience and previews what is to come from Lincoln.”

Serenity now.

DNA Day is here.

Andriy Onufriyenko/Moment/Getty Images

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  • On this day in history: It’s DNA Day! Today in 1953, DNA’s double-helix structure was described in a paper for the first time. The research, published in the journal Nature, has changed how we understand fundamental biology and how we treat disease.
  • Song of the day: Space Oddity,” by David Bowie.
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