US congressman stuns a NASA panel with question on aliens Daily Mail Online
'Was he for real?’California Republican Dana Rohrabacher asked if aliens once lived on Mars
A senior Nasa Mars rover scientist told the congressman it is 'extremely unlikely'
Shortly after the internet erupted with responses to the bizarre exchange
The comments were made during a hearing of the US House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
A US congressman has stunned a panel of senior NASA scientists with a question about alien life on Mars.
California Republican Dana Rohrabacher queried whether an alien civilization lived on Mars 'thousands of years ago', asking NASA officials 'would you rule that out?'
After he was told by a panel member that an ancient colony on Mars was 'extremely unlikely', the internet erupted with responses to the bizarre exchange, with one commenter asking: 'Was he for real?
Others defended the congressman's questions, with one Reddit user saying: 'Normal people have no idea or even think about any civilization outside of Earth and they don't get to ask questions like this, so this man just cleared that up for the world.'
The congressman's comments were made on Tuesday during a hearing of the US House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology on upcoming NASA exploration missions.
The hearing, held in Washington DC on Tuesday, discussed several of NASA’s big-budget plans, including a Mars 2020 rover, a Europa flyby mission, and potentially a follow-up lander to the Jovian moon Europa.
After a series of respectable questions from a number of US officials, Mr. Rohrabacher took to the microphone.
Following a question to the panel on NASA’s plans for a Mars sample return mission, he said: 'you have indicated that Mars had a, was totally different thousands of years ago
'Is it possible that there was a civilization on Mars thousands of years ago?'
Witness Dr Kenneth Farley, a Nasa Mars 2020 rover project scientist and associate professor of geochemistry at California Institute of Technology, responded: 'So the evidence is that Mars was different of years ago, not thousands of years ago.'
Dr Farley added that 'there is no evidence that I'm aware of-' before the congressman cut him off, refining his original question.
Would you rule that out? That - see, there are some people - well, anyway,' Mr. Rohrabacher said.
Farley answered: 'I would say that is extremely unlikely.'
After the bizarre exchange went viral, internet users erupted with responses to the congressman's question.
Popular science Twitter account @earthskyscience, which has over 800,000 followers, asked: 'Was he for real?'
Twitter user @Sid12Rao mocked: 'Is the moon really cheese? #StupidQuestionsForAstronauts'
But one Reddit user was more sympathetic to the congressman's enquiry.
'I don't think that was dumb. Normal people have no idea or even think about any civilization outside of Earth and they don't get to ask questions like this, so this man just cleared that up for the world,' user dude with batman said.
Mars was far wetter and warmer billions of years ago, and scientists have spent decades studying its soil and atmosphere to determine if it once held life.
After the bizarre exchange went viral, internet users erupted with responses to the congressman's question. Popular science Twitter account @earthskyscience, which has over 800,000 followers, asked: 'Was he for real?'
In a groundbreaking study in 2015, scientists claimed the red planet once had more water than the Arctic Ocean - and the planet kept these oceans for more than 1.5 billion years.
The findings suggested there was ample time and water for life on Mars to thrive, but over the last 3.7 billion years the red planet has lost 87 per cent of its water - leaving it barren and dry.
The study by scientists at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, was the first to determine just how much water Mars had in its past.
During its wet Noachian period - 4.1 to 3.7 billion years ago - it is estimated that it had enough water to cover the entire surface in a liquid layer 450 feet (137 meters) deep.
However, it’s likely that most of the water formed an ocean that occupied the northern hemisphere of Mars, which would have been as deep as one mile (1.6km) in places - comparable to the Mediterranean Sea on Earth.
Published in the journal Science, the research estimated that, in total, what is now the planet’s arid northern plains would have contained at least 12.4 million cubic miles (20 million cubic kilometer’s) of water.