In a striking article, a former NASA scientist says he is convinced that the space agency "found evidence of life" on Mars in the 1970s.
In the article, Gilbert Levin, who worked on the Viking missions on the Red Planet during that decade, makes it clear that he believes Labeled Release (LR) data in 1976 was favorable to the pursuit of life.
"On July 30, 1976, the LR returned its initial results from Mars," Levin wrote in the article, "I am convinced that we found evidence of life on Mars in the 1970s."
"Surprisingly, they were positive. As the experiment progressed, a total of four positive results, supported by five varied controls from the Viking spacecraft, landed about 6,000 kilometers away."
NASA: MARS OASIS OLD COULD SUPPORT LIFE
He continued: "The data curves signaled the detection of microbial respiration on the Red Planet. The curves on Mars were similar to those produced by the LR soil tests on Earth. It seemed that we had answered this final question."
LR, led by Levin, collected Martian soil samples that contained organic compounds and searched for carbon dioxide. Surprisingly, the results seemed to indicate that carbon dioxide "was being regenerated, possibly by microorganisms like on Earth."
Fox News contacted NASA to comment on this story.
However, Levin seemed to criticize the space agency for not following LR's findings, even if NASA concluded that "it found a substance that mimics life but not life."
"Inexplicably, in the 43 years since the Viking, none of NASA's subsequent Mars landings carried a life-detection instrument to keep up with these exciting results," he continued. "Instead, the agency launched a series of missions on Mars to determine if there was adequate habitat for life and, if so, eventually bring samples to Earth for biological examination."
NASA made subsequent visits to Mars, including InSight, which landed in November 2018. The Curiosity rover, which has been on Mars since August 2012, has detected a surprising increase in methane level that it has not yet been able to explain. .
Last November, NASA announced that it had chosen a landing site for its next Mars 2020 mission, a spacecraft that will not include "a life detection test," Levin wrote.
"With our current measurements, we have no way of knowing if the source of methane is biology or geology, or even ancient or modern," said SAM Principal Investigator Paul Mahaffy of NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center in a statement released in June. On Earth, methane is produced biologically and geologically.
Levin asked the space agency to put "life detection experiments on the next possible Mars mission" to be more precise in its search for life, but also to maintain "a well-established scientific protocol." He also wants an independent group of scientists to review the Viking LR data.
"Such an objective jury can conclude, like me, that the Viking LR has found life," concluded Levin. "At any rate, the study will likely yield important guidance for NASA's search for its holy grail."
The recently published article is not the first time Levin suggests that life was found on Mars. In 1997, he published "his conclusion that LR had actually discovered living microorganisms on the Red Planet," according to his website.
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