The race to put the first human on Mars is making the race for the moon landing look like child’s play.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX is scouting locations for human habitats, people have started designing Martian living spaces, and NASA managed to successfully touch down on the red planet not too long ago with their InSight lander.
While all this is going on, nobody has stopped to think about what would happen if something already lived there.
Okay, Elon thinks about aliens a lot, but not in any way that’s even remotely productive.
Now, a former NASA scientist, Gilbert V. Levin, is claiming that the space programme had confirmation of life on Mars almost 40 years ago.
CNN breaks it down:
Levin, who was principal investigator on a NASA experiment that sent Viking landers to Mars in 1976, published an article in the Scientific American journal last Thursday, arguing the experiment’s positive results were proof of life on the red planet.
The experiment, called Labeled Release (LR), was designed to test Martian soil for organic matter. “It seemed we had answered that ultimate question,” Levin wrote in the article.
In the experiment, the Viking probes placed nutrients in soil samples from Mars.
If life were present, it would consume the food and leave gaseous traces of its metabolism, which radioactive monitors would then detect.
To make sure it was a biological reaction, the test was repeated after cooking the soil, which would prove lethal to known life. If there was a measurable reaction in the first and not the second sample, that would suggest biological forces at work — and that’s exactly what happened, according to Levin.
Other experiments yielded different results, though, so they dismissed the positive result as a false positive.
“NASA concluded that the LR had found a substance mimicking life, but not life,” said Levin in his article. “Inexplicably, over the 43 years since Viking, none of NASA’s subsequent Mars landers has carried a life detection instrument to follow up on these exciting results.”
But now, decades later, there are more and more promising signs. NASA’s Curiosity rover found organic matter on Mars in 2018, and just last week it found sediments that suggest there were once ancient salty lakes on the surface of Mars.
Levin is sticking to his guns and is convinced that what they found was proof of life.
“What is the evidence against the possibility of life on Mars?” Levin wrote. “The astonishing fact is that there is none.”
The 2020 Mars lander will not be equipped with a life-detection test, according to Levin.
“In keeping with well-established scientific protocol, I believe an effort should be made to put life detection experiments on the next Mars mission possible.”
When — or if — NASA finds life on Mars, the world may not be ready for the discovery, the agency chief says
He proposed that the LR experiment be repeated on Mars, with certain amendments, and then have its data studied by a panel of experts.
I think that’s a great idea.
We don’t want too many surprises if we ever make it up there.
[imagesource: Shutterstock] Just as we were about to dip our toes into the holiday seas...
Black Friday madness is once again upon us. But rather than spending all day hitting refre...
[imagesource: Twitter / Rassie Erasmus] We won't see Rassie Erasmus carrying water onto...
[imagesource: Hello Tech] Can you hear me now? What about now? Is anybody there? ...
[imagesource: YouTube / NBC News] Everyone's idea of a good time is different. Do I ...