Author(s): Levin GV, Straat PA, Levin GV, Straat PA
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Abstract Viking radiorespirometry ("Labeled Release" [LR]) experiments conducted on surface material obtained at two sites on Mars have produced results which on Earth would clearly establish the presence of microbial activity in the soil. However, two factors on Mars keep the question open. First, the intense UV flux striking Mars has given rise to several theories postulating the production of highly oxidative compounds. Such compounds might be responsible for the observed results. Second, the molecular analysis experiment has not found organic matter in the Mars surface material, and therefore, does not support the presence of roganisms. However, sensitivity limitations of the organic analysis instrument could permit as many as one million terrestrial type bacteria to go undetected. Terrestrial experiments with UV irradiation of Mars Analog Soil did not produce Mars type LR results. Gamma irradiation of silica gel did produce positive results, but not mimicking those on Mars. The life question remains open.
This article was published in Biosystems
and referenced in Journal of Astrobiology & Outreach