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SMSU scholars react to NASA news conference

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/smsuschola_1246.mp3

The news from NASA that conditions on Mars could support life receives mixed reviews from experts in geology and religion. Mike Smith reports.

NASA says the Rover called Opportunity has come across sulfates and other minerals that form in the presence of water.

The discovery was made during a study of fine layered rock on the surface of the "Red Planet", and that's exciting news to

SMSU Geologists Jim Miller and Kevin Evans, who both say even though Opportunity has yet to find any direct evidence of life on Mars, conditions could've permitted organisms to flourish there. Miller and Evans site numerous examples of life establishing itself in extreme environments here on Earth.

But SMSU Religious Studies Lecturer Dave Embry says if life forms of any kind were found on Mars, there are many people whose reactions and interpretations to the news would be based on faith, not science. Embry says there are many "young Earth creationists" who believe Earth was created 6000-12000 years ago, but Miller and Evans say Earth was created over 4 billion years ago.

Meanwhile, Opportunity and its twin rover Spirit, controlled by scientists at the Jet Propulsion Lab in California , continue to gather data from the surface of Mars.

Reporting for KSMU News, I'm Mike Smith.