Did We Kill Life on Mars?

01.08.2007 · Posted in Computers & Technology

SEATTLE — Tom Paulson over at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is reporting that the Viking mission to Mars may have discovered living organisms that we promptly destroyed becuase they weren’t in a form we expected.

A previously confusing finding on Mars by the Viking Landers was evidence of chemical oxidation. Scientists at the time assumed this meant the Martian surface was a highly reactive place, but further missions to Mars failed to find any evidence of oxidative chemistry.
Schulze-Makuch and Houtkooper suggest that the hydrogen peroxide detected by Viking could have come from killing Martian microbes that, like some peculiar creatures on Earth, use hydrogen peroxide the same way humans use water.
The Mars landers did all their chemical analyses by mixing samples with water — a step that would have prompted a powerful chemical reaction in any microbe full of hydrogen peroxide, killing it and releasing the peroxide.

I guess we know what to look for now…
Technorati Tags: space, extraterrestrial, mars

Comments are closed