Viking Experiments Likely Found Life On Mars Years Ago

By Rodney Rafols , Oct 24, 2016 05:10 AM EDT

Mars continues to fascinate people. As plans are being set up or ongoing to the planet, speculations still persist that Mars might have life in it. An early Mars mission might already have found life there, as some astronomers contend.

40 years ago NASA sent two Viking landers to Mars. It was the first expedition on Mars' surface, and with it many high resolution images have been made available for the first time, according to Phys Org. Much of the samples taken were from the surface as well as the atmosphere, though samples have also been made in search of life there.

Samples have been made for the Label Release (LR) experiment, and one experiment showed that the Martian soil had been positive of metabolism. That indicated that life might be on Mars. Another experiment made showed that there was no organic material on the planet though. This has become controversial as the experiments seemed to show conflicting results.

There are scientists that are convinced that the experiments did show life on Mars is possible. Gilbert Levin, Experimenter of the Viking LR experiment, is one of them. Further experiments on Earth in 1997 as well as more recent discoveries on Mars has convinced him as well as Dr. Patricia A. Straat that life on Mars could be likely. They say that living organisms can only explain the results of the experiments.

Before Viking 1 and 2 went to Mars, the experiments had been done in harsh conditions and environments. Tests were done from Death Valley to Antarctica to make sure that both landers could handle sample taking and experimentation under various conditions. The experiments were done on sterile soil so as to prevent any false positives.

While the tests on Earth found life, no organic molecule was found on Mars. Scientists though were surprised that both landers managed to get soil that tested positive for metabolism. Researchers have been trying to find ways to reproduce the results by using nonbiological chemicals.

Levin and Straat say that so far, no nonbiological chemical can fully meet the LR results. NASA has said that the study they made could lead to a reevaluation of the LR experiments, Russia Today says in its report.

The search for life on Mars continues, as earlier ESA has sent a lander that would be a prelude to Europe trying to find life on Mars.

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