“This suggests a robust biological response. These analyses support the interpretation that the Viking LR experiment did detect extant microbial life on Mars.” -Bianciardi, Miller, Straat and Levin

On July 20, 1976, the Viking 1 lander touched down onto the Martian surface, followed just a few weeks later by Viking 2. On board both landers were a suite of three experiments designed to look for signs of life.

NASA Viking Lander Biological Experiment Package. Image credit: NASA.

NASA Viking Lander Biological Experiment Package. Image credit: NASA.

While the Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometer and the Gas Exchange experiment both came back negative, the Labeled Release experiment — where nutrient-rich molecules tagged with radioactive carbon-14 were added to the Martian soil — gave off a positive release of radioactive CO2.

The Viking 2 lander on the Martian surface. Image credit: NASA.

The Viking 2 lander on the Martian surface. Image credit: NASA.

Did our first trip to Mars really find life after all?

Comments

  1. #1 Denier
    United States
    July 22, 2016

    @Ethan wrote:

    Perhaps, in the next decade or two, we’ll finally have the answer to the biggest question raised by the first Martian laboratory ever.

    Are you thinking it could be that long before we know because the next set of exobiology instruments being sent to Mars in the next few years (ExoMars Rover) are in the hands of the Russians and ESA?

    Korabl 4 — failure
    Korabl 5 — failure
    Korabl 11 — failure
    Mars 1 — failure
    Korabl 13 — failure
    Zond 2 — failure
    Mars 1969A — failure
    Mars 1969B — failure
    Kosmos 419 — failure
    Mars 2 — failure
    Mars 3 — SUCCESS!!!…for 20 seconds and then failure
    Mars 4 — failure
    Mars 6 — failure
    Mars 7 — failure
    Phobos 1 — failure
    Phobos 2 — failure
    Mars 96 — failure
    Beagle 2 — failure
    Phobos-Grunt — failure

    Although Russia and the ESA are the Washington Generals of landing on Mars, don’t forget that even the Washington Generals did win a few games eventually.

  2. #2 prof prem raj pushpakaran
    india
    July 25, 2016

    prof prem raj pushpakaran writes —lets celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Viking Landings on Mars!!!

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