1 October 2007 The revival of life on Mars
Author Affiliations +
Few, if any, major scientific quests have taken such frequent, diametrically opposed changes in prospect and direction as has the search for life on Mars. The erratic courses and their supporting rationales are traced: from Percival Lowell's astonishing pronouncement of intelligent beings on the red planet; to their denouement by Mariner 4; to the strong contraindications of any form of Martian life relayed by Mariners 6 and 7; to the discovery of a different, perhaps once-habitable, Mars revealed by the detailed orbital images, including the first evidence of ancient rivers, taken by Mariner 9; to the still-controversial claim of the detection of microbial life by the 1976 Viking Missions; to NASA's subsequent prohibition against any Mars life detection experiments; to the recently emerged consensus, propelled by findings of Pathfinder, the Mars Exploratory Rovers and the continuing discoveries of life in extreme environments on Earth, that past or extant life on Mars is likely. Against this background, the future Mars missions' experiments bearing on the life issue are reviewed. The case is made that none of these experiments, as currently planned, still subject to the prohibition against direct life detection experiments, can resolve this paramount and fundamental question that bears so heavily on the origin and distribution of life, and our place in the universe.
© (2007) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Gilbert V. Levin, "The revival of life on Mars", Proc. SPIE 6694, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology X, 66940M (1 October 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.731034; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.731034


Instruments and methods to search for extraterrestrial life
Proceedings of SPIE (September 21 2015)
A planetary quarantine laboratory on the moon
Proceedings of SPIE (November 01 2004)
Modern myths of Mars
Proceedings of SPIE (September 14 2006)
Scientific logic for life on Mars
Proceedings of SPIE (February 05 2002)
Aqueous environments on contemporary Mars?
Proceedings of SPIE (February 05 2002)
Ramifications of a sterile Mars
Proceedings of SPIE (September 23 2011)

Back to Top