Phoenix Lander

For the last 36 years the media told us that the Viking mission launched by NASA in 1976 didn’t find life on Mars or that Viking proved that Mars was dead.  Well, that just was never true and NASA’s only official comment on the subject was that the experiment testing for life was inconclusive.

Viking used an experiment called Labeled Release or (LR) to detect the release of radioactive gas by organisms metabolizing nutrients laced with a radio active compound, if such organisms were in fact present in the Martian soil.  This detection method was designed by Dr. Gilbert V. Levin in 1969 whom NASA later contracted for the Viking missions.

Controversy began in 1981 when some scientists began claiming that the Viking missions did in fact find life on Mars.  Then in 1997 Dr. Gilbert V. Levin presented his revised conclusions of the original data from the Viking experiments, claiming that life was indeed detected on the surface of Mars.  What changed?  Why were scientists now sure that positive results were transmitted by the Viking landers?  In short, circadian rhythms.

Circadian rhythms refers to the cycles that all living creatures here on earth go through on a daily bases, such as wakefulness, sleep, hunger, etc.  It is widely accepted that this natural rhythm can be applied to non-terrestrial life forms as well if they were to exist.

The debate began to take on new prominence as more scientists began to take a closer look at the data that Viking returned as reported by the online science site Space Daily back on July 16, 2000.

Eventually, even more scientists joined the fray for and against the case for the discovery of life in 2001 as Joseph Miller another expert in circadian rhythms made the case for life on Mars.  The rebuttal came from University of Colorado professor Bruce Jakosky claiming other factors that could produce the same result as reported in the online article;  Scientist: Mars Data Shows Life Signs.

Then everything changed in 2008.  NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander, following the mission of the doomed Mars Polar Lander launched in 1999, landed on Mars.  With the Phoenix Mars Lander finding signs of water and organic materials, life was now within the realm of probabilities rather than possibilities for the Red Planet.

So where does that leave us today?  Even if you were not paying attention you could not overlook the many publications announcing that life had been discovered on Mars by the Viking mission.  The new claim is based on mathematical analysis done on the 36 year old data by Joseph Miller, who had first heralded his findings back in 2001.  Is there life on Mars?  Probably or as Joseph Miller says, 99% sure.

Read:  Life Found On Mars.

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