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No. 68: Mar-Apr 1990

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New Life For Martian Life

After the negative (some say "ambiguous") results from the Viking spacecraft life-detection experiments in 1976, astronomers and biologists have proclaimed that Mars is sterile. This pronouncement may have been premature.

A meteorite discovered in Antarctica in 1979 may change a few minds on this matter. This particular meteorite is one of the handful thought to have been blasted off into space by an oblique impact of an asteroid on the surface of Mars. Somehow, statistics were kind to these tiny Martian orphans, for they found their ways to the Antarctic snows. But what is really exciting is the recent discovery that chemical analysis of one of these purported Martian meteorites revealed a high concentration of organic material deep within. The implication is that Martian life existed, perhaps still does exist, beneath the Martian surface, where the Viking Lander's scoop could not get at it.

(Anonymous; "Life under Mars?" Sky and Telescope, 78:461, 1989.)

Comment. In other words, Mars like the earth, may harbor an unappreciated fauna in crevicular structure beneath the environmentally rigorous surface. See also: SF#67.

From Science Frontiers #68, MAR-APR 1990. 1990-2000 William R. Corliss