David Bowie sang about it. Ray Bradbury wrote about it. Elon Musk dreams about it being him. The possibility of life existing on Mars has intrigued humans ever since the red dot in the sky was called a planet and given a name. But no one – that includes robotic rovers – has ever proven without a doubt that there is life on Mars. Now, an ex-NASA scientist who worked on the Viking 1 and Viking 2 missions to the Red Planet in the mid 1970s is claiming that life – or something that looked an awful lot like it – was discovered by the Viking landers but NASA dismissed all of the positive signs when it couldn’t duplicate them in an Earth laboratory. Now he wants the agency to send life detection equipment to Mars again. Wait a minute … you mean in 43 years NASA has NEVER sent life-detection instruments back to Mars? Is this a cover-up?
"NASA concluded that the LR had found a substance mimicking life, but not life. Inexplicably, over the 43 years since Viking, none of NASA's subsequent Mars landers has carried a life detection instrument to follow up on these exciting results."
In an article published in Scientific American, Gilbert V. Levin -- an engineer and inventor and the principal investigator for the Labeled Release life detection experiment on NASA’s Viking missions to Mars – claims that what the landers found in two locations 4,000 miles apart couldn’t be anything BUT life forms, yet NASA pays lip service to a life-detection mission but has no plans for one, even after the Curiosity rover last year found organic matter in 3-billion-year-old mudstone and recently found evidence of salty lakes where organisms could live. Levin explains his frustration.
“Life on Mars seemed a long shot. On the other hand, it would take a near miracle for Mars to be sterile. NASA scientist Chris McKay once said that Mars and Earth have been “swapping spit” for billions of years, meaning that, when either planet is hit by comets or large meteorites, some ejecta shoot into space. A tiny fraction of this material eventually lands on the other planet, perhaps infecting it with microbiological hitch-hikers. That some Earth microbial species could survive the Martian environment has been demonstrated in many laboratories. There are even reports of the survival of microorganisms exposed to naked space outside the International Space Station (ISS).”
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, in many scientific writings, Gilbert V. Levin has presented evidence which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Viking LR experiments detected living organisms metabolizing in a solution known to reliably detect life. Furthermore, subsequent missions have found methane, surface water, formaldehyde, ammonia and other substances needed for life as well as physical formations that indicate life. In fact, as he states in his article:
“No factor inimical to life has been found on Mars.”
(Inimical: hostile or adverse.)
In conclusion, Gilbert V. Levin sees no other way to rule but:
“… the Viking LR did find life.”
Is he right? Why has NASA continued to look on Mars for evidence of past life, but not present life? The instruments are available and ready to go. What are they waiting for?
Even if Martians are just Earth spit, we have a right to know.