Last week a former NASA researcher published an article claiming that an experiment that tested samples from Martian soil back in 1976 had discovered signs of life.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has refuted claims by a former employee that “evidence” of organic life was discovered during a pair of missions to Mars back in 1976, NASA spokesman Allard Beutel said in an email to Fox News.
Gilbert V. Levin, a former NASA researcher, revealed last week in an article entitled “I’m Convinced We Found Evidence of Life on Mars in the 1970s” published by Scientific American that a Labeled Release (LR) experiment which tested several samples from the Martian soil for signs of carbon dioxide during the Viking Lander 1 and 2 missions came back positive. However, NASA is not convinced the experiment’s results were sufficient to prove the presence of life on Mars.
“From studying water on Mars, probing promising ‘oceans worlds’, such as Enceladus and Europa, to looking for biosignatures in the atmospheres of planets outside our solar system, NASA’s science missions are working together with a goal to find unmistakable signs of life beyond Earth”.
Levin, however, was convinced that the test, which revealed four positive results for the presence of microbial respiration supported by five varied controls duplicated by both landers, proved that microorganisms were present in the planet’s soil.
While a further experiment failed to detect organic matter – suggesting that LR found just the imitation of life – Levin, who played a leading role in the experiment, criticised the space agency for not following up the test’s results in subsequent missions.
In the meantime, the Curiosity rover, which has been on the Red Planet since August 2012, previously detected a sulfate salt in sedimentary rocks in the Gale Crater, a dry lake bed on the planet, suggesting that the crater once contained salty lakes which could have supported life.