Aliens, ETs and UFOs > Outer Space

Life on Mars


NASA found evidence of life on Mars in 1976, but dismissed the findings as impossible, two British astronomers claim.

Now, evidence from missions such as the Mars Global Surveyor suggests that the early observation was correct after all.

For instance, newly released high-resolution images of the planet's surface show a valley which might have been originally formed by liquid water, the stuff of life.

According to Nigel Henbest and Heather Couper, independent astronomy writers and broadcasters, one of three biology experiments conducted on Mars by the two Viking landers obtained clear evidence that there were living microbes on the red planet.

The experimental instrument, designed by engineer Gilbert Levin, head of the Biospherics company in the US, exposed samples of the Martian soil to an Earth-like solution of water and nutrients known to exist in meteorites and interstellar clouds.

"It was the kind of solution that bacteria on Earth would love to slurp," Mr Henbest, in Sydney for the International Astronomical Union's 24th general assembly, said.

"It was cleverly designed so that if there was no life, then nothing would happen, but if there were microbes, they would take in the solution and produce gas." He said the gas was tagged with a radioactive label that could be detected by the experiment's built-in Geiger detector.

Also speaking at the assembly, astronomer Seth Shostak predicted that scientists will find ET within 25 years.

Dr Shostak, with the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI) claimed that a $US10 billion ($15 billion) array of 350 specially designed radio telescopes under construction in California will crank up the search for extraterrestrial radio signals.

"It's like going from walking to jet speed, like finding a needle in a haystack with a big shovel instead of a small spoon," he said.

In their new book Mars: the inside story of the red planet Mr Henbest and Dr Couper reveal that Dr Levin's instrument tested three soil samples at differing temperatures. When tested at 46C, the sample emitted gas, indicating the presence of bacteria-like organisms.

"Independent people say that if this were the only experiment on Viking the (scientists) would have been persuaded that there is evidence for life on Mars," Mr Henbest said.

The problem was that neither of the other two experiments found telltale signs of life. NASA dismissed Dr Levin's findings.


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