Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Why Aren't We Looking For Life On Mars?

"It is unfortunate that the Mars 2020 rover currently being developed by NASA has no experiments designed to detect living organisms on the Red Planet. It will be looking only for "signs of past life." Gilbert Levin's Labeled Release (LR) Experimental Data was indicative of active metabolism in the Martian regolith during the Viking I and Viking 2 Lander missions in the 1970s. The Viking LR data was dismissed as due to unexplained "alien chemistry" rather than biology. Even though all efforts to replicate the Viking LR data by abiotic means have failed, not a single subsequent NASA mission to Mars has searched for living microbes or evidence for ancient life. Subsequent NASA, ESA and Russian missions have established that there are vast amounts of near surface water ice and permafrost even at mid-latitudes on Mars. It is now known that on Earth microorganisms do live and grow in polar ice and permafrost. Hence there is no valid scientific reason to dismiss the Viking LR results. In consideration of Planetary Protection Protocols it is of profound importance that experiments designed to search for indigenous life on Mars be carried out before the Red Planet is hopelessly contaminated by a manned mission."

                      -Astrobiologist Richard B. Hoover
                                        August 29, 2016

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