Science

Did NASA’s Viking Mission Discover Life on the Red Planet in the 1970s?

Words, “Life on Mars” are debatable enough that one needs to do a double-take. Gilbert Levin is NASA’s former scientist, and he was the part of the historic Viking mission to Mars in the year 1976. And this was the year when NASA’s spacecraft landed on the surface of the red planet for the very first time. Last week Levin published his opinion in Scientific American and that he is certain they might have discovered evidence about life on the red planet. Although “Life on Mars” is a clickable headline, however, it’s not new. A long history of facts supports Levin’s statement. Scientists are reanalyzing soil samples taken during the Viking mission. And they believe that this reanalysis shows positive evidence regarding microbial life on the planet Mars.
A paper is published this month in the International Journal of Aeronautical and Space Sciences. In the paper, scientists have described the new experiments they are performing. Also, they are drawing more recent understandings about the environment on the red planet. The original experiment was Labeled Release, conducted in the year 1976, and originally surrounded by controversies. Levin was the principal investigator of the experiment LR. The experiment involved inoculating the Martian soil sample with nutrients. Then scientists looked for signs of metabolism that can show the existence of microbial life on the red planet.
According to Levin’s study, the Viking landers were successful as they discover the signs of microbial respiration. These results depict the possibility of life on this seemingly barren planet, although other Viking experiments do not find any evidence of organic molecules in the Martian soil. NASA revisited the Viking experiment. It digitized the data collected through the microfilms. The science team believed the data collected by LR skewed. It is because of the non-biological property of the Martian soil, which resulted in false positive. NASA stated that amidst the arguments, life on Mars remains the consensus view. NASA’s Curiosity rover mission is still-running on Mars. And it has turned up fascinating evidence about the presence of organic compounds such as methane on planet red. These organic compounds are basic building blocks amongst the living organisms. However, the discovery is not as big as finding the presence of microbes, but one cannot ignore the fact that there might be life on Mars.

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