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Microbial life on Mars: The possibility must be considered

Date:
October 18, 2016
Source:
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Publishers
Summary:
The existence of microbial life on Mars remains highly controversial, but recent evidence of water, complex organic molecules, and methane in the Martian environment, combined with findings from the 1976 Viking mission, have led to the conclusion that existing life on Mars is a possibility that must be considered.
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The existence of microbial life on Mars remains highly controversial, but recent evidence of water, complex organic molecules, and methane in the Martian environment, combined with findings from the 1976 Viking mission, have led to the conclusion that existing life on Mars is a possibility that must be considered, as presented in an article in Astrobiology.

In "The Case for Extant Life on Mars and Its Possible Detection by the Viking Labeled Release Experiment," coauthors Gilbert V. Levin, Arizona State University, Tempe, and Patricia Ann Straat, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD (retired), clearly outline the evidence to support the "biological hypothesis," which argues that the results of the 1976 Viking Labeled Release experiment were positive for extant microbial life on the surface of Mars.

Further, Drs. Levin and Straat evaluate the "non-biological hypotheses" to explain the Viking results, which many scientists support, but the authors conclude that the experimental evidence supports a biological explanation and the likelihood that microorganisms were able to evolve and adapt to be able to survive in the harsh conditions of the Martian environment.

"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," says Chris McKay, PhD, Senior Editor of Astrobiology and an astrobiologist with NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA. "We cannot rule out the biological explanation. This has implications for plans for sample return from Mars and for future human missions."


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Materials provided by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Publishers. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gilbert V. Levin, Patricia Ann Straat. The Case for Extant Life on Mars and Its Possible Detection by the Viking Labeled Release Experiment. Astrobiology, 2016; 16 (10): 798 DOI: 10.1089/ast.2015.1464

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Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Publishers. "Microbial life on Mars: The possibility must be considered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 October 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161018132408.htm>.
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Publishers. (2016, October 18). Microbial life on Mars: The possibility must be considered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161018132408.htm
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Publishers. "Microbial life on Mars: The possibility must be considered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161018132408.htm (accessed May 26, 2017).

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