Life on Mars? Data From 1976 Viking Mission Re-examined

Life on Mars? Data From 1976 Viking Mission Re-examined

Life on Mars? Data From 1976 Viking Mission Re-examined

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April 13 2012 3:58 PM

Life on Mars? Data From 1976 Viking Mission Re-examined

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New research suggests a different look at data collected from Mars soil in a 1976 mission could point to signs of life. The Echus Chasma, one of the largest water source regions on Mars, is pictured from ESA's Mars Express.

Photo by ESA via Getty Images

David Bowie had already told us of the red planet’s Spiders way back in '72. Maybe we should have listened.

An international team of researchers say they may have discovered Martian life, and not with the help of any newfangled Rover or Orbiter.

Analyzing a life-detection experiment from the 1976 Viking Mars mission, mathematicians and biologists examined the 36-year-old soil sample data from a new, purely numerical perspective. Researchers found a high degree of order and complexity in the experiment's number sets, a dead giveaway, they claim, of biological, rather that geological processes. Critics of the study argue that this method of life-detection by the numbers has yet to be proven here on Earth, let alone on Mars, and say the technique needs to be tested before we jump to conclusions.

Either way, some believers are finally answering “yes” to a decades-old question.

Video produced by Paca Thomas.

Ben Johnson is the producer of Marketplace Tech from American Public Media.