Microbial life on Mars: The possibility must be considered
The existence of microbial life on Mars remains highly controversial, but recent evidence of water, complex organic molecules, and methane in the Martian environment, combined with findings from the 1976 Viking mission, have led to the conclusion that existing life on Mars is a possibility that must be considered, as presented in an article in Astrobiology.
|Trenches dug by the soil sampler of the Viking 1 lander [Credit: NASA Viking image archive]|
Further, Drs. Levin and Straat evaluate the "non-biological hypotheses" to explain the Viking results, which many scientists support, but the authors conclude that the experimental evidence supports a biological explanation and the likelihood that microorganisms were able to evolve and adapt to be able to survive in the harsh conditions of the Martian environment.
"Even if one is not convinced that the Viking LR results give strong evidence for life on Mars, this paper clearly shows that the possibility must be considered," says Chris McKay, PhD, Senior Editor of Astrobiology and an astrobiologist with NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA. "We cannot rule out the biological explanation. This has implications for plans for sample return from Mars and for future human missions."
Source: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Publishers [October 18, 2016]