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New analysis supports discovery of life on Mars by Viking landers

15 Apr 2012, 00:30 UTC
New analysis supports discovery of life on Mars by Viking landers
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The question of whether or not the Viking landers found evidence of microbial life on Mars in the 1970s is one of the most hotly debated issues in space exploration and continues to this day. Most scientists concluded that the … Continue reading →

View of terrain near Viking 1 lander on Mars, with trenches dug in the soil for the life-detection experiments. Credit: NASA/JPL
The question of whether or not the Viking landers found evidence of microbial life on Mars in the 1970s is one of the most hotly debated issues in space exploration and continues to this day. Most scientists concluded that the seemingly positive results of the Labeled Release (LR) life-detection experiments were the result of unusual chemical activity in the soil instead of life, based largely on the lack of organics found in the soil samples. This was the single biggest argument against the life hypothesis, as any microbes would need to be composed of organic material.
Results from the Phoenix mission which landed on Mars in 2008 indicated that perchlorates in the soil could explain the apparently missing organics, which would destroy any organic material. Other Earth-based studies have also shown that the Viking experiments ...

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