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A chemical test used by the Mars Viking landers more than 30 years
ago was not sensitive enough to detect signs of alien life even if they
existed, a new study suggests.
Researchers analyzed soil from several harsh, Mars-like environ-
ments on Earth using the same gas spectrometry test employed by
the Viking landers.
But even in soil taken from areas teaming with microbial life, the
tests failed to register any signs of organic material.
Thus, "the Martian surface could have several orders of magnitude
more organics than the stated Viking detection limit," the resear-
Prompted by NASA's upcoming Phoenix and Mars Scientific Labora-
tory, future missions with goals of finding signs of past or present
Martian life—the researchers replicated the Viking landing experi-
ments on soil taken from Mars-like environments here on Earth,
including Antarctic dry valleys and arid deserts in Chile and Peru.
As a control, they also examined soil from the Rio Tinto , a river in
Spain abundant in life and known to have high levels of organic
In all the samples, the researchers found low levels of organic com-
pounds such as graphite that were not detected by the TV-GC-MS
One possibility for the false-negative, the researchers said, is that
iron in the soil oxidized organic molecules into carbon dioxide, redu-
cing the amount of detectable material available for detection
Originally posted by Scramjet76
What kind of scientists don't take chemicals in the soil screwing with their data into consideration??
But maybe It was because we are looking for the chemical compounds that make up life on Earth. Martian life may be made up of something entirely different, hence why it was not found.