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Thread: Did 40-year-old Viking experiment discover life on Mars?

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    Default Did 40-year-old Viking experiment discover life on Mars?



    In 1976, two Viking landers became the first US spacecraft from Earth to touch down on Mars. They took the first high-resolution images of the planet, surveyed the planet's geographical features, and analysed the geological composition of the atmosphere and surface. Perhaps most intriguingly, they also performed experiments that searched for signs of microbial life in Martian soil.

    Overall, these life-detection experiments produced surprising and contradictory results. One experiment, the Labelled Release (LR) experiment, showed that the Martian soil tested positive for metabolism—a sign that, on Earth, would almost certainly suggest the presence of life. However, a related experiment found no trace of organic material, suggesting the absence of life. With no organic substances, what could be, or seem to be, metabolising?

    In the forty years since these experiments, scientists have been unable to reconcile the conflicting results, and the general consensus is that the Viking landers found no conclusive evidence of life on Mars. However, a small minority of scientists argues that the Viking results were positive for life on Mars.

    Read more at: Did 40-year-old Viking experiment discover life on Mars?
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    Default Re: Did 40-year-old Viking experiment discover life on Mars?

    In my opinoin Viking did discover life.

    The labelled release should have priority over the gas chromatography searching for biological molecules.

    The controlled relaese experiment was very touroughly tested on earth in a range of available soils and rock (from jungle to deser stand, volcanic rocs etc... even on sterile moon rocks and meterorites). It gave never false results. On Mars the labelled relaese instrument did an adiddtional controls:
    1. it first searched for metabolism on untreated Mars samples. And found matabolism by the relase of methane as metabolite. Several controls were done: The sample was heated to 40° celcius and then there was far less metabolism as if the possible organisms were struggling to stay alive at this higher non martian temperature. The samples were heated to 160° (sterilisation) and metabolism dissapeared. Also The metabolism was in sync with the nigh day cycle. Anoterh control was to take a sample, close it and so that no sunlight reached the sample for a long time, after that again there was no metabolism. (as if possible microorganisms had died).

    In short the released control experiment was very well set up, well calibrated and thouroughly tested and used controls.

    The gas chromatograph looking for organic molecules OTOH was far from perfect. in testing on earth it was giving false results and no control samples were taken on Mars. Also the chief engineer said that the experiment did not have the sensitivity to find small amounts of organic molecules.

    The procudere fault was that the inaccurate gaschromatograph was used before the accurate released experiment . it gave negative results and in the mind of the scientists this was proof of no life. The controlled relased experiment was done after that, but with a huge bias that it would not find life. Despite the positive result this was ignored since the scientist were already convinced that there was no life. And this must have been a chemical process.

    Note that with ever improving knowledge of Martian soil, experiments have tried to duplicate the controlled release experiment for more than 40 years now and have never been able , despite considerable effort to emulate the results of the controlled release experiment by purely chemical reactions.

    Also since Viking we have discovered that the Martian atmosphere does contain seasonally variable methane, not in equilibrium with the atmosphere, and thus there must be something producing methane as a metabolite. Normally this alone would be a very strong indication of some sort of life metabolising and releasing methane.

    I have the feeling that scientists are almost afraid to find life on Mars.

    How history might have been different if the controlled release experiment was done before the search for boimolecules by an inadequate instrument.

    Scientist generally still refer to the gas chromatography to "prove" that no life exists on Mars , despite several strong clues to the contrary.

    On the whole the scientific community still rejects the existence of life on Mars based on the Viking results,and thus no more effort is being made to search for it, apart from the little , crashed Beagle lander. (current life, no life in the past). But there is a small number of scientists that are beginning to change their opinion and said that the controlled release experiment did indeed find life.

    Sadly enough after the Viking mission , landers were not sterilised anymore, so earth bacteria, of which we now know might possibly survive on Mars might have been introduced on Mars, so any search in the future will have to take into account this possible contamination, makig the search much more difficult , and making positive results easly toreject as a sign for indegenious Martian life. Any indication of life on Mars might be considered invalid and interpreted that the result is due to contamination with earth organisms.

    All in all a tragedy for a well set up scientific experiment.

    Just my toughts,

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    Default Re: Did 40-year-old Viking experiment discover life on Mars?

    Very interesting reading. I have a feeling that life indeed does exist on Mars in various microbial forms and underground too. There is water there and methane there. It is juts a matter of time till this gets proven by actual microscopic viewing of a sample on a future rover explorer.
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    Default Re: Did 40-year-old Viking experiment discover life on Mars?

    A year old thread, gents.

    Feel free to begin a new discussion thread...
    Bryan

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