We spent tens of billions of dollars to answer a simple question: is there life on Mars?
But after a commentary on Scientific American by former NASA scientist Gilbert Levin, we may have learned that during an experiment he carried out to NASA in 1976 for NASA's Viking mission, we are not alone in the universe.
NASA sent two separate Viking Orbiter and Lander pairs to the Red Planet to conduct experiments and return with snapshots. This was the first time that the US landed a spacecraft safely on the Red Planet and sent photos back.
According to Levin, the mission found positive results during the Labeled Release Life Detection experiment it led.
As part of the experiment, the lander mixed a Mars soil sample with a nitrogen-based nutrient solution that was "labeled" with a unique radioactive carbon compound. The theory was that if microorganisms in the soil were to metabolize the nutrients, they would emit radioactive carbon dioxide gas.
Levin reports how "amazing" the initial results of the experiment were for microorganisms ̵
And Levin is unyielding: Thousands of reliable soil and microbial soil tests carried out at that time support the results.
Nevertheless, there is a big drawback to his findings: further experiments "did not provide clear evidence of the presence of living microorganisms in the soil near the landing sites," as NASA puts it.
Levin substantiates his conclusion with evidence obtained after NASA's Viking missions, including evidence of surface water, methane, ammonia, and even "worm-like features," which can be seen on NASA Curiosity Rovers' pictures Feet in Levin's eyes. He argues that NASA, in its long history of exploring Mars, has failed since 1976 to seek direct evidence of life, although the search is "one of its top priorities."
Rather than Sending Soil Samples All the Way Back to Earth – Something NASA's Mars 2020 Rover Will Try to Do – Levin says scientists should expand on the results of his 1970s experiments and do other similar tests.
But before this happens, he must convince NASA that his proof of life on Mars is valid.
This article was originally published by Futurism. Read the original article.