Skip to comments.Viking Landers May Have Missed Martian Life
Posted on 10/23/2006 7:14:16 PM PDT by blam
Viking landers may have missed Martian life
22:19 23 October 2006
NewScientist.com news service
Mark Buchanan and David L Chandler
Viking-like studies of the sediment in Spain's Rio Tinto, which contains microbes, found no signs of life (Image: Rafael Navarro-González)
The trace amount of organic matter in soil from the Atacama desert in Chile did not decompose into smaller molecules when heated to the temperatures used in Viking's GCMS experiment (Image: Rafael Navarro-González)
NASAs twin Viking spacecraft may have missed signs of life during their examination of the Martian surface 30 years ago. Researchers now say that the landers experiments were not sensitive enough to find life and in any case may not have been able to spot the strange forms that Martian life might take.
The results from Vikings onboard experiments are confusing because some tests suggested the presence of organisms capable of digesting organic molecules. But heating the soil with a gas-chromatograph mass spectrometer (GCMS) to release these organic molecules found nothing, causing most scientists to rule out life. Instead they put the soil reactivity down to the presence of peroxides or other reactive substances.
Now, a paper by Rafael Navarro-Gonzalez of the University of Mexico and others demonstrates that the GCMS instrument was incapable of detecting organic compounds even in Mars-like soils from various locations on Earth. This includes Chile's Atacama desert, where other tests prove that living microbes are indeed present.
In some soils including samples taken from Rio Tinto in Spain, which contain iron compounds similar to those detected in Mars soils by NASA's rover Opportunity, the sensitivity of the GCMS was actually a million times lower than its claimed threshold for detection.
Gilbert Levin, one of the Viking scientists who has long argued that the GCMS test was flawed, told New Scientist that the new study provides "strong support" to the idea that life was indeed detected on Mars.
Geophysicist Dirk Schulze-Makuch of Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, US, says the study adds to a body of evidence that increasingly leaves the Viking results open to interpretation.
The outstanding puzzle is to explain what causes the high reactivity of the Martian soil, which keeps the level of organics so low despite a constant influx of organic material from asteroids, comets and other planetary sources. Most astrobiologists assume that some mysterious oxidising material in the soil is destroying the organic material but other possibilities are emerging.
Schulze-Makuch and Joop Houtkooper of the Justus-Liebig-University in Giessen, Germany, suggest that an exotic form of Martian life might provide a tidy explanation. They propose that an organism might have evolved on the Red Planet to use a solution of water and hydrogen peroxide as an intracellular fluid, rather than just water as Earth organisms do.
This has the advantage of staying liquid at very cold temperatures, allowing organisms to survive in the cold Martian climate. This internal hydrogen peroxide might then be the mysterious oxidant.
We just may find life to be a bit different from life on Earth, says Schulze-Makuch. But wouldnt you expect that on another planet?
Navarro-Gonzalez says further tests should be done on Mars to answer the question once and for all. Unfortunately, none of the experiments now slated for upcoming missions could definitively reveal whether there is life in the soil, although they could prove the presence of organic compounds and identify what they are.
And there may still be time to add instruments that could look for microbial life to NASA's planned Mars Science Laboratory, set for launch in 2009, or the European Space Agency's ExoMars mission to be launched in 2011 or 2013, he said.
Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (vol 103, p 16089)
What about the face on Mars? Chopped liver? (It's actually Rove's face)
Just democrats..nothing important.
Move M. Roller Disco full of Pac Man machines and priceless Mood Rings.
They're coming again in 2 years. Can't expect luck and Loyal Customers to set up diversion like last time.
Who knew they would figure out that Mood Ring substance is an intoxicant to alien life forms?!!
Just our luck.
Activate Plan B.
He made the statement that the life detection experiment was flawed, mainly due to schedule and cost concerns.
Both landers touched down on Mars while we were getting our master's degrees.
Gilbert Levin was one of the designers of the experiments to detect life, and he has maintained that the results were positive. NASA's response to the apparently positive results was to speculate on lifeless scenarios which would trick the experiment to produce the lifelike responses observed. Remember, NASA is a government agency, what government does best is kill people and break things, which is why we let government conduct war and build roads.
Not just America, they got to MARS first too?!
Evolutionists are getting desperate.
John Kerry: "We detected life on Mars before we did not detect it".
The Viking Labeled Release Experiment and Life on MarsMany hypotheses have been advanced and tested in attempts to account for the well-characterized activity detected in the surface material of Mars by the LR experiment. As shown above, these hypotheses have themselves been found wanting. The demonstrated success of the LR and the exquisite sensitivity with which it has detected microorganisms during its extensive test program with its record of no false positives can no longer be denied. No non-biological approach published, or known to the author, has duplicated the LR Mars data. Some laboratory experiments have produced positive responses, but the detailed thermal sensitivity exhibited by the variety of controls conducted on Mars has remained elusive in all such tests compatible with martian conditions. On the other hand, a combination of known properties of microorganisms, perhaps even those possessed by single species, could reproduce all aspects of the LR data. The biological interpretation of the Mars LR results is left standing alone. Recent discoveries of life forms thriving in extraordinarily severe environments on Earth strongly indicate that any alien organisms arriving on Mars might well and widely adapt to their new home. Application of the scientific principle leads to a conclusion: the Viking LR experiment detected living microorganisms in the soil of Mars.
by Gilbert V. Levin
When did he detect it then?
I have an offer (still open to takers): I bet $100 that we find at least microbes on Mars. See http://xenotechresearch.com/marsgal2.htm and http://www.space.com/peopleinterviews/clarke_mars_010601.html
when he was in Vietnam, of course. (you did know he was in VN, right?)
The evidence for life on Mars mounts. I am just about convinced that some form of life does indeed exist on Mars.
No..I had no idea he was there. Does he say he was there? Then I suppose he was on Mars also? The guy really gets around does'nt he?
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