Newly published calculations show that material
ejected into space by meteoric impact must come from the surface of the
impacted planet. Thus, if the meteorites containing biological findings
are, indeed, from Mars, they validate that microorganisms would have been
in surface material such as that taken in the LR sample.
Levin also studied the Viking Lander images looking for signs
of life that might support his LR data. In 1978, he reported that some
areas of the soil and some rocks bore greenish patterns that changed in
shape over the 6 years that the Viking cameras kept sending pictures back
to Earth. This was the first time colors other than orange-red were attributed
to Mars, and a major controversy ensued until the colors were independently
confirmed by other Viking scientists. Levin brought lichen-bearing rocks
to NASA's Viking simulation site and had the rocks imaged by and processed
through the Viking camera system. A scientific comparison of the colored
patterns on the Martian rocks matched the lichen-colored patches on the
Earth rocks. Levin cited lichen as a good model for the life he claims
on Mars, not only because of this analysis, but also because lichen are
known to live under conditions nearly as extreme as those on the Red Planet.
In his talk, Levin stated that Pathfinder, our first return to
Mars in 21 years, should have contained a life detection experiment, especially
since the President and the NASA Administrator have stated that the discovery
of life on Mars is NASA's top priority. While NASA included none, Levin
claims to have a "Trojan Horse" aboard Pathfinder in the form of its cameras.
More precise than Viking's, Pathfinder's imaging equipment may show formations
undeniably biological, such as colonial clusters of lichen or similar organisms.
Commenting on the continuing stream of Pathfinder pictures and
data, Levin says they are consistent with his conclusion that there is
life on Mars. The meteorological data fully confirm the presence of liquid
water in the topsoil each morning. The black-and-white as well as the color
images show slick areas that may well be moist patches. Sojourner's tire
tracks leave tiny vertical piles of soil consistent with their being moist.
The color images confirm Levin's finding of brown to green areas on the
surface and rocks. "I'm just waiting for that picture of lichen," he says,
"to convince everyone finally that I've reached the right conclusion!"
Meanwhile, Levin has proposed a low-cost, simple life detection
test for NASA's Surveyor '98, scheduled to be launched to Mars this fall.
The test is based on the fact that only living things distinguish right-handed
organic molecules from their left-handed twins. So far NASA has declined
interest, saying it intends to look for life on Mars by bringing samples
back to Earth within the next several years. Levin strongly cautions against
this, saying that "Although Earth has probably received many microorganisms
from Mars as its meteorites impacted us over the eons, there still could
be very dangerous surprises in such samples that could jeopardize our environment
and life itself."
Levin did his Viking work and other space research under NASA
contracts to his firm, Biospherics Incorporated (NASDAQ/BINC), Beltsville,
Maryland, which he founded in 1967 and where he remains as President. In
addition to Viking, he was also designated by NASA as an Experimenter aboard
the Mariner 9 Mission to Mars, and the ill-fated Russian '96 Mars Lander.
Under its motto, "Technologies for Information and Health," Biospherics'
mission is to provide guidance and products to improve the quality of life.
The Firm offers telecommunications and database management information
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# # # # # #
Sir Fred Hoyle, 011-44-202-556474
Copyright © 1996, 1997 Biospherics Inc.
Dr. Robert Jastrow, Director, Wilson Observatory
Dr. Ron Weiner, Department of Microbiology, University of Maryland
Dr. John Brewer, Vice President (retired), Becton Dickenson, Inc.,
Dr. Harley Halvorson, Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory