Patt Morrison for April 18, 2012

New study of NASA data from 1976 points to possible life on Mars

The primary objectives of the Viking mission, which was composed of two spacecraft, were to obtain high-resolution images of the Martian surface; characterize the structure and composition of the atmosphere and surface; and search for evidence of life on Mars.

According to an international team of mathematicians and scientists, there is life on Mars.

The team, including University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine neurobiologist Joseph Miller, came to this conclusion after reanalyzing data from a life-detection experiment conducted by NASA’s Viking Mars robots in 1976.

The study quantified the raw data and the results were checked for complexity. Key among the findings was a high degree of order which scientists believe points to biological processes. Not everyone in the scientific community agrees with the new study. Some call for caution, pointing out that the methodology is not yet effective enough to differentiate between biological and non-biological processes here on Earth. Miller is also reanalyzing the data to see if there could be variations caused by a weeks-long dust storm on Mars. Those research results are expected to be presented in August.

WEIGH IN:

Are you excited about the prospect of life on Mars? Do you think the methodology behind these findings should be questioned? Should NASA send another mission to Mars?

Guest:

Joseph Miller, associate professor, cell and neurobiology, University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine


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