NASA’s Viking Mission Discovered The Signs Of Life On Mars In 1976, Says Study

Posted: Oct 22 2016, 8:41am CDT | by , Updated: Oct 22 2016, 9:12am CDT , in Latest Science News


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NASA’s Viking Mission Discovered the Signs of Life on Mars in 1976, Study Claims
A view takenby Viking lander 1. Credit: NASA

Researchers reconsidered the results of the Viking LR experiment in light of recent findings on Mars and concluded that the microbial life on Mars is a possibility that must be considered

Forty years ago, NASA’s Viking mission did something that has never been done before. The spacecraft safely landed on the surface of Mars and became the first ever mission from Earth to get a closer look at the geological features of the Red Planet.

Besides taking high resolution images and collecting other data, it also conducted several biology experiments to determine the existence of life on the planet. One experiment called Labeled Release (LR) experiment specifically yielded significant results. When landers collected Martian soil, it was tested positive for metabolism – a sign that suggests the presence of life. However, a related experiment found no traces of organic material, denying the presence of microbial life. Despite the contradictory outcome, the possibility of life on Martian surface could not be ruled out altogether.

Recently, researchers Gilbert Levin and Dr. Patricia A. Straat, experimenters involved in the Viking LR experiment, have revisited the data from NASA’s 1976 mission to Mars and attempted to explain it in the context of recent findings on Mars. When researchers combined recent evidences of water, complex organic molecules and methane with the findings from 1976 Viking mission, they led to the conclusion that the microbial life was discovered on the Red Planet back in 1976.

"Even if one is not convinced that the Viking LR results give strong evidence for life on Mars, this paper clearly shows that the possibility must be considered," said Chris McKay, an astrobiologist with NASA Ames Research Center. “We cannot rule out the biological explanation. This has implications for plans for sample return from Mars and for future human missions.”

The 1976 Viking mission consisted of two identical spacecrafts Viking 1 and Viking 2, each equipped with a lander and orbiter. Viking 1 touched down on the western slope of Chryse Planitia on June 19, 1976 while Viking 2 landed on the Utopia Planitia on September 3, 1976.

Both landers were designed for a 90-day stay on Mars but they went on to spend more time than they initially intended. Viking lander 1 made its final communication with Earth on November 1982 while last data from Viking lander 2 was received on April 1980.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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