A leading NASA scientist has been speaking about the possibility of finding life on the planet Mars.

Chris McKay of the NASA Ames Research Centre is a co-investigator on NASA's Phoenix Lander mission, which detected perchlorates, (ClO4), in the Martian soil in June and July 2008.

McKay has been interviewed by the US Planetary Society for their weekly radio show.

In the interview McKay states ...

1% of the martian soil at the Phoenix lander site is perchlorate.

Perchlorates can coexist with organic molecules at room temperature, but when heated the perchlorate decomposes releasing oxygen which attacks organic molecules, destroying them.

In 1976 two life detection experiments on NASA's Viking 1 and 2 landers ( the labelled released and gas exchange experiment ) delivered results that were consistent with biological activity.

The Viking landers were also equipped with a GCMS experiment which heated Mars soil samples to several hundred degrees and looked for organic fragments being released. None were found at a concentration of
1 part per billion.

As a result most scientists concluded the data obtained by the life detection experiments were false positives caused by inorganic chemical processes.

But McKay says that if perchlorates were present in the soil at the Viking landing sites the GCMS experiment would have destroyed organic molecules in the Martian soil before it could detect them, providing an explanation for the unusual finding of no organics at all in the Martian soil at the Viking lander sites.
McKay thinks its time to re-evaluate the Viking results and says we should get the first accurate measurement of the concentration of organic molecules in the Martian soil when the Mars Science Laboratory lander starts work in 2012. It'll search for organics by dissolving them in solution - without heating the sample.

This way any organics won't be removed by perchlorate activity.

Chris.

Tags: 1976, Gil, Levin, Levine, Mars, astronomy, chris, chryse, landers, martian, More…mckay, microbiology, microorganisms, planitia, space, viking

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Replies to This Discussion

WTF???

A really hope that was a very bad joke...if not I would recommend seeking a basic science education. Please tell me you are NOT serious....

If you are please read THIS

Wait - after going to your page here and finding nothing I think you ARE serious. Forget the science education - try a mental health professional.
Sorry Jim - I try not to feed trolls. Good day.
BULLSHIT
Well Mr. Smartypants I just sent the text of that to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Team at NASA on their Facebook site. I hope they get Buzz Aldren to deal with you. He is good at breaking noses.
Chris,

Thanks for that tidbit...missed it myself. I would be a truly wonderful thing to discover any evidence of life on Mars. And it is scientists like Chris McKay and many others who will lead the way.

Good post.
Jim,
Your tinfoil hat is a notch to tight. There is abundant evidence of the Apollo program's success; so at this point your incredible statements will require some incredible evidence to the contrary- some missing photos don't quite make the case.
Does SHOUTING help with your point? I know calling me a toady certainly doesn't compel me to apologise to you.
I am well aware of the impossibility of proving a negative and didn't ask that of you. What needs some extraordinary proof is your assertion that a conspiracy of huge scope involving thousands of technicians, scientists, politicians, TV crews, producers and reporters (at a time when there were real investigative reporters) and they all kept silent for 40 years. I assume you can explain all that or you wouldn't be positing this speculation.
Mr. Hanley,

I am reporting your account to the admins of the web site for abuse. You have no interest in debate - only outrageous assertions with no merit.
Hanley,
You were somewhat amusing but now you are just tiresome and irritating. Bye
Mr. Hanley appears to not be among us any more.hmmm.
What a pity - and what a nut.
I love our admins - they don't fool around. Bye Mr. Tinfoil Hanley - find another forum for your wild conspiracy theories. Carver - thanks fopr your attempt to be civil.

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