In honour of the Phoenix lander's successful touchdown in the Martian Arctic last night, I thought I would share a painting done a number of years ago.
This painting was inspired by the Martian meteorite, ALH84001 and the inscription is carved into the rock in the bottom left.
The figure represents a mythology that never-was, the personification of Mother Nature on the planet Mars, wasted and haunting.
After struggling with a "mermaid's purse" shark egg to represent the false hope of organisms on Mars, I eventually attended a lecture at the University of Toronto where the topic of discussion was the possible discovery of fossil remnants in a meteor that originated on Mars. I learned about the magnetite chains found in the meteor, and watched a video of the cute little microbes whipping this way and that, following a moving magnet. I replaced the shark egg with an enlarged, ruptured microbe immediately.
Until that lecture, this painting sat unfinished and abandoned for over a year, and I was sure I would paint over it. It's something I seldom do, but I really wasn't fond of it. The addition of the magnetite-bearing microbe made all the difference to me.
The face was a sort of riff on the infamous hill-face on Mars, later proved to be simply a low-res, shadowed coincidence. I felt the debunked image lent a certain poignancy to Mother Mars.
Mars is what we make it. Perhaps Phoenix will find signs of life in the Martian arctic? If not, it continues to be a planet of hope, and one we invest more myths, ideas and dreams in than any planet other than our own.
Here is one of Phoenix's of the Martian arctic:
(Photo from NASA site) Make sure to head over to the Phoenix site over the coming days, weeks and months for astounding findings. Also, check out the ever-entertaining Bad Astronomy blog for more news and commentary.
Cheers, to all involved with the Phoenix project!
All original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow. The contents of this blog are under a Creative Commons Licence. See sidebar for details.