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Congressman asks NASA about ancient civilizations on Mars

A curious US congressman questions NASA about ancient civilizations on the Red Planet. A Mars rover scientist offers a sensible answer.

Congress got a little distracted by Martians today, seriously.  

A typical US congressional hearing took place Tuesday in Washington, involving the House of Representative's Subcommittee on Space and scientists from NASA discussing the subject of "Planetary Flagship Missions: Mars Rover 2020 and Europa Clipper." It was all pretty routine until Rep. Dana Rohrabacher asked about the presence of ancient civilizations on Mars. 

Mashable brought our attention to the interesting exchange, which starts with Rohrabacher saying scientists have indicated Mars was "totally different thousands of years ago." He then asks, "Was it possible there was a civilization on Mars thousands of years ago?"

NASA Mars 2020 rover project scientist Kenneth Farley fields the question by first noting Mars was very different billions of years ago, not thousands. He then adds, "There is no evidence that I'm aware of..." Rohrabacher then breaks in to ask if he would rule out the possibility. Farley responds, "I would say that is extremely unlikely." 

Mars has always excited imaginations with pop-culture depictions of Martians and flights of fancy every time a NASA rover spots an unusual-looking rock, but one thing we haven't seen is the slightest sign of an alien civilization on the Red Planet. It may seem a little goofy, but ultimately there was no harm in Rohrabacher asking his question.

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