It now appears almost certain that the Viking Lander's life experiment succeeded, and that there is life on Mars. However, NASA interpreted the results too conservatively, and the chance to direct exploration of Mars toward the discovery of life was lost. Now, however, a new look at the results may change all that.
In the Daily Mail, Rob Waugh writes: "In July 1976, the Viking 1 probe touched down on Mars and failed to find traces of life--but now, three decades later, scientists think the experiment was flawed. Viking 1 did find evidence of extraterrestrial microbes in soil samples from the Red Planet."
A new analysis of the Mars samples reveals that the original mathematical analysis of the soil was wrong--the soil samples show strong evidence of microbial life. The reassessment was prompted by the discovery of "perchlorates" in the soil at the landing site of the Mars lander Phoenix, in 2008.
It was the presence of chemicals in Viking's samples that led scientists to originally conclude the samples were contaminated.
Waugh quotes researcher Josheph Miller as saying, "'The ultimate proof is to take a video of a Martian bacteria. They should send a microscope--watch the bacteria move. On the basis of what we've done so far, I'd say I'm 99% sure there's life there." In fact, we may all be Martians.
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