Did Viking really detect evidence of life ? Image Credit: NASA / Van der Hoorn
Gilbert Levin, who worked on the two Viking landers, maintains that evidence of alien life was found in 1976.
With Curiosity still trundling around on the Martian surface and with another follow-up rover due to be launched next summer, it's easy to forget that it hasn't been that long since the idea of landing a spacecraft on the surface of Mars seemed like little more than science fiction.
NASA first accomplished this feat with its Viking landers - two ambitious robotic probes that not only succeeded in landing on the surface but even attempted to search for evidence of alien life.
One of their experiments, which aimed to find organic molecules by mixing water and nutrients with samples of the Martian soil, had initially returned promising results, but after an extensive analysis of the findings it was eventually determined that the result was most likely a false positive.
Not everyone however is convinced that this was the case.
Gilbert Levin, who worked on the Viking life detection experiments, remains adamant to this day that the results were in fact convincing evidence of biological life on the surface of Mars.
Despite being 4,000 miles apart, both Viking landers produced positive results for the Labeled Release (LR) life detection experiment with the data closely matching that from Earth-based test runs.
NASA ultimately dismissed the findings, suggesting that the experiment had in fact detected something that 'mimicked life', as oppose to actual life itself.
Levin argues that there was more to the results than the official analysis suggests and that NASA has been dragging its feet with regard to conducting repeat experiments in more recent years.
In particular, he believes that NASA has failed in its objective to seek out life on Mars.
With both ESA's ExoMars rover and NASA's Mars 2020 rover due to head to the Red Planet in the near future however, the hunt for life could in fact be about to begin in earnest.
Source: Futurism | Comments (16)