Could aliens have lived in our solar system a few thousand years ago? That's an actual question (yes, about aliens) that one brave Congressman asked experts from NASA's Mars Rover 2020 team during a Space Subcommittee meeting on Tuesday, July 18.
Ready for this?
That's a big, fat disappointing no, despite what your Ancient Aliens-watching ass might have hoped for.
Don't get us wrong: Space exploration is netting some pretty exciting discoveries lately.
NASA has detected a ton of possibly habitable planets. There are many giant robots exploring Mars -- which, we have recently discovered, used to have water! And, gasp, space wine could be a thing in the not-too-distant future.
Very exciting things that are putting me closer, step by step, to living my MST3K fantasy.
But, sadly, still no signs of intelligent life on Mars.
Experts unfortunately confirmed as much during a meeting with the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's Space Subcommittee.
Part of NASA's job -- aside from the fun robot stuff -- is to report on findings and future plans to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology -- effectively advocating for their budget. That involves dealing with people who are decidedly not experts on space exploration and have probably had their brains stuffed full of pop culture junk, like The X-Files.
And subcommittee member Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican from California, showed his Martian ignorance when he asked experts if Mars was home to any civilizations thousands of years ago.
That's right. Thousands. As in, relatively recently. Like, the written word already existed.
Rohrabacher was quickly corrected when NASA Project Scientist Kenneth Farley said that Mars hasn't changed significantly enough in thousands of years to warrant questions of recent intelligent life. "There is no evidence that I'm aware of," he said.
But Rohrabacher, eternal optimist (apparently), tried again, rephrasing his question about the existence of Martian civilizations. "Would you rule that out?" he asked.
"I would say that is extremely unlikely," Farley said.
It hurts. It really does.
But much as I want aliens to exist (and to take me with them), the question was... bad. It was just bad.
Especially for someone on the Space Subcommittee. While it's true that every few months, NASA has to deal with rumors that they're about to announce the existence of intelligent alien life, that's coming from groups like Anonymous. Not elected officials who are ostensibly briefed on this stuff.
I mean, as funny as it is to listen to a fully grown man ask about aliens, it's also scary. NASA does vital work, and finding water on Mars, after all, is not cheap. Their budget is on the chopping block, and we've got some dude asking them about ancient aliens. An elected representative. Who helps determine how much money NASA gets.
Someone take me away already.