The search for life on Mars has become such a drawn-out and elaborate strip-tease that many of us are forced to conclude that NASA (etc) are already sure they've found it, and are simply preparing the ground socially for the announcement. Now, even the Pope is pretty sanguine about ET, and has said it all fits into God's great plan, which should sort out the concern of a large chunk of the global population.
30 years ago, an announcement of alien life might have had unpredictable social consequences. Now, Manuscripts Don't Burn is pretty sure most Brits would barely register the news, as long as sports and soap opera broadcasts weren't interrupted.
The sad fact is that science is still a minority patronage game for governments, much as it has ever been, and has to scrabble for the leavings from the budgetary table. No matter how excited science enthusiasts may get, most people are just not bothered, and will simply parrot a number of socially-acceptable cliches to cover their lack of interest (to whit, the BBC HYS entries).
The end result is a painfully slow pace of research, and an equally slow uptake by the social consciousness, ideally with minimal social upheaval. Only the rapid spread of the internet has got out of control from this perspective - and now the world's governments are trying, with clumsy threats and propaganda, to persuade the world's people to agree to put the genie back in the bottle.
Manuscripts Don't Burn for one would be absolutely delighted to see yet more evidence of life on Mars. However, we are pretty much convinced it's already Out There, and lots of it, so it would just confirm what we already think...
The simple truth is that exploratory entrepreneurialism is not the traditional forte of governments. What we really need is a Bill Gates or Richard Branson to get on board and kick ass - we already have the know-how to be out there in the solar system right now, with bases all over the place and plenty of resource exploitation to pay for it.
Tho, with the obsessive secrecy of our governments, Manuscripts Don't Burn wouldn't be surprised if we were already doing it...