Nasa found alien life on Mars then killed it, scientist claims

A scientist claims that we might have already found alien life on Mars 50 years ago but accidentally drowned it.

Dirk Schulze-Makuch from the Technical University Berlin, believes that an experiment carried out in the 1970s that added water to Martian soil could have drowned any life that could have existed.

The test, known as the Viking Labeled Release experiment, was one of three biology experiments conducted by the Viking landers on Mars in 1976.

The experiment was designed to detect the presence of living microorganisms in the Martian soil by measuring the release of radioactive carbon dioxide from a sample of soil that had been mixed with a nutrient solution.

The theory was that if life were on Mars, microorganisms would consume the nutrients and release the radioactive carbon as a gas.

Schulze-Makuch believes the water containing the nutrient solution in the soil may have been too much liquid ‘and [any life] died off after a while.’

The two landers in Nasa’s Viking mission touched down on Mars on July 20 and September 3, 1976.

The investigation was conducted at both the Viking 1 and Viking 2 landing sites. At both sites, the experiment produced positive results, indicating that 14CO2 was released from the soil samples.

However, the interpretation of these results is controversial. Some scientists believe that the positive results were due to the presence of living microorganisms in the Martian soil, while others believe that the results were due to non-biological processes, such as the oxidation of organic compounds by the Martian soil.

In an op-ed for BigThink, Schulze-Makuch said that Viking-era scientists had very little understanding of the Martian environment.

‘Since Earth is a water planet, it seemed reasonable that adding water might coax life to show itself in the extremely dry Martian environment. In hindsight, it is possible that approach was too much of a good thing,’ he wrote.

He explained how in extremely dry places on Earth, such as Chile’s Atacama Desert, there is a gradual progression of life forms as the habitat gets more dry.

The scientist called on a new mission to Mars ‘dedicated primarily to life detection’ to test this hypothesis.

‘It should explore potential habitats on Mars like the Southern Highlands, where life could persist in salt rocks close to the surface… I cannot wait for such a mission to get under way.’

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