In an article published on Tuesday (15) in Scientific American, Gilbert Levin, a former NASA engineer who worked on the Viking missions, makes a controversial claim: that since the 1970s, the agency already knows that there is life on Mars.
In the article, Levin reveals that the two Viking ships, which landed in very different locations on the Red Planet, conducted a series of tests to determine whether life existed on the planet. And one of these tests, which was based on the experiment used by scientist Louis Pasteur to prove the existence of microbes, returned a positive value for the existence of microorganisms.
The result obtained would have been confirmed by the other ship of the Viking mission, which replicated the results by carrying out the same test in a region more than 6,500 km distant from where the first ship landed.
Levin, who claims to have spent the last 43 years studying the results obtained on the mission, reveals that the entire team managed four tests that were positive for the presence of life on Mars, all with data curves that indicated the existence of microbial respiration on Mars. soil of the planet, and which were very similar to the results found when investigating the presence of bacteria in terrestrial soil – which, for Levin, proved that the presence of microscopic life had been found on Mars.
The question he asks in the article is: if the presence of life on Mars was already proven, why did the US government decide to hide this information for decades?
But the reality is not exactly that. The results of tests conducted by Vikings on the soil of Mars during the 1970s were not hidden as confidential information, and in the last four decades several scientists have analyzed these results, but there is no consensus on whether they actually indicate the existence of life on Earth. planet. This is because critics of this statement accuse the tests of being non-specific, with results that are not confirmed throughout the experiments and, therefore, inconclusive.
Levin even agrees with these criticisms, and it is in them that the engineer\’s greatest concern is deposited: the fact that the results obtained by the Viking missions were not complemented by other experiments that could validate the findings made by the mission. And that puts NASA\’s current plans in a new light, as the agency would be ready to send astronauts to a planet where there is no certainty of whether or not germs exist, and that could put astronauts at unnecessary risk, because if If there is microscopic life on Mars, it will take a lot of effort not only not to expose them to possible microorganisms existing on the planet, but also to ensure that they do not bring any of these microorganisms back to Earth.
Thus, Levin concludes that, before we send astronauts to Mars, we need to study more carefully the results of experiments carried out by Viking and compare them with the latest evidence that life could exist on Mars – such as the recent discoveries that, at some point in its evolution, the planet already had an atmosphere and large reservoirs of water, which is enough to make many scientists believe that, at least at some point, living organisms existed on Mars.
Even though there are many theories that life once existed on Mars – and evidence that supports these theories – there is still no scientific consensus that any planet other than Earth has developed a life form. But, at the same time, you have to take Levin\’s warnings very seriously, because if there really are live microorganisms in the soil of Mars, sending astronauts there could be extremely dangerous, as it is not possible to know how these germs and bacteria will go. behave in the Earth\’s atmosphere if these astronauts bring samples of them here, and it would be important to be certain whether or not there is life on the Red Planet before we send the first humans out to explore the Martian terrain.