BY STEVEN SPARKMAN
ANCHOR CHRISTINA HARTMAN
A new study says NASA discovered life on Mars â€” several decades ago. A team of scientists claim one of the early Mars lander missions actually found life, but the data was misinterpreted at the time. KPTV reports.
"They say they found bacteria when searching data collected 30 years ago by NASA's Viking mars robot. Researchers say that what scientists thought was simple geology is actual bacterial activity."
The Viking mission was the first to show conclusive evidence of water on Mars, but they also looked for evidence of life in soil samples. A writer for The State Column tells us how.
"In the experiments, the Viking landers dropped on Mars about 4,000 miles apart, scooped up soil samples and applied a radiolabeled nutrient cocktail to the soil. If microbes were present in the soil, they would likely metabolize the nutrient resulting in the release of CO2 or possibly methane."
One of the experiments showed promising results, but scientists decided it was probably a fluke due to some oxidizing agent. The new research took a different tactic, and analyzed all the data using mathematical analysis. Discovery News explains.
"Researchers distilled the Viking Labeled Release data, provided as hard copies by the original researchers, into sets of numbers and analyzed the results for complexity. Since living systems are more complicated than non-biological processes, the idea was to look at the experiment results from a purely numerical perspective."
The patterns the researchers saw mimicked the patterns of life on Earth more closely than patterns of geological processes. But not so fast â€” a writer for Geekosystem explains it takes more than a number crunch to claim a big discovery.
"...though the method is actually pretty simple ... it is largely unproven to be effective. The road to proving the method is effective is to first prove that it can work between two Earth activities, rather than ones from Mars. So, not the biggest news for finding life, but yet another tidbit of evidence..."
For the record, the life the researchers say was found would have been microbes, not little green men.
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