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Chemistry on Mars, living or not?

  1. Jan 16, 2008 #1
    During the Viking missions to mars, three experiments were done to search for traces of life. The pyrolytic-release, labeled-release and gas exchange experiment. The PR showed positive, and non positive on the control on the first cycle, then the rest were inconsistant. The LR showed positive on all cycles and negative on controls. The GR showed results that were mysterious, but pointed to weird chemistry more likely than biology.

    They couldn't detect organic molecules, but the technology couldn't detect enough parts per billion ton assume detection of the ones involved in the findings under the biology assumption anyways.

    The labeled-release experiment has yet to be reproduce on earth with chemistry or biology. There is debate among those who carried out the experiments and other biologists on the significance.

    The viking missions were the first to land on mars and since others in more recent times have done so. But I have not heard of any similar follow up experiments done. Does anyone know of recent biology detection experiments done since.

    I understand that the labeled release experiment has yet to be explained as a non biological chemical process.

    My information comes from "To the Red Planet" by Eric Burgess. He is was a prominent Science writer for NASA at the time.

    Modern attempts to disprove the biology explanation include a theoretical super-oxide which has not been discovered.

    I see lots of publication about mars trips and the search for life, but none that detail any experiments on detection. What has been done since viking to follow up.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 17, 2008 #2


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    I don't believe that any missions have even attempted to look for life since Viking. The latest missions have focused on the presence of water and features that indicate that water once existed on the planet.
  4. Jan 17, 2008 #3
    That sucks. Who cares about knowing about water in the past. Isn't it obvious that mars had lots of water based on the dry river channels and canyons. What a waste of money.
  5. Jan 18, 2008 #4
    What do you mean "who cares"? This is science, and all its questions are worth answering. By looking at the faith of Mars, we can understand the changes in our planet better.
  6. Jan 18, 2008 #5


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    Isn't knowing when important? And if there is still some there?
  7. Jan 25, 2008 #6
    Yeah I guess it is important on the long term scale of data accumulation. I just don't understand why they don't care about finding life. It makes me split in my paradigm of space exploration and its' relation to the civilian.

    I think that finding life on another planet would be one of the most important discoveries that man can make. That would be vital information in understanding our role in the universe. I find this exciting and put it as one of my main reasons for supporting space exploration, because I would like to know this answer. After all that is the question that primary fuels public interest in space exploration.

    On the other hand another part of me says, "Lets be realistic, space exploration is not being done for civilians." NASA is primarily a Military organization. If NASA discovered life on another planet and was able to keep it secret, they would. The implications on religion, and religions implications on social order make the idea of the public ever being informed on such issues very unlikely. This is a view I seldom like to think. This part of me makes me think that they are weary of doing more biological experiments on mars because they are afraid of actually finding life and with all the scientists involved would be forced to make findings public. After all there is currently controversy between the scientists that carried out the biological experiments and the NASA official opinion on the results of the experiments as to whether life was detected or not. This saddens me. I view the search for evidence of water in the past on mars as a way of pretending to be interested in the possibility of biology on mars.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2008
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