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No. 48: Nov-Dec 1986

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Is there life on mars after all?

G. Levin and P. Straat, who designed one of the three life-detection experiments on the Mars Viking landers, have always maintained that the positive results obtained with their experiment were unreasonably overruled by the negative data from the other two experiments. At a recent scientific meeting in Washington, they stated:

"It is more likely than not that our experiment detected life on Mars."

Their research in the decade following the Mars landings has only strengthened their belief. Further, they have demonstrated that one of the other life-detection experiments producing negative results was not sensitive enough to detect low population levels of microorganisms. Realizing that the no-life-on-Mars dogma is well-entrenched, they looked for other kinds of evidence for life.

"In support of their claims, the two researchers presented two photographs of a Martian rock taken years apart by a camera on one of the landers. The photographs show greenish patches which had changed over time. Spectral analysis of the photographs compared favorably with the spectra given out by lichen-bearing rocks on Earth, as seen through a replica of the lander's camera."

(Anonymous; "Is There Life on Mars After All?" New Scientist, p. 19, July 31, 1986.)

From Science Frontiers #48, NOV-DEC 1986. 1986-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987