(TMU) — A former NASA scientist has written that he is convinced that the U.S. space agency “found evidence of life” on Mars in the 1970s, but the data was largely ignored.
The stunning admission by Gilbert Levin—the former principal investigator for the Labeled Release (LR) experiment on NASA’s Viking mission to Mars—came in an op-ed recently published in Scientific American.
In the article, the engineer and inventor is clear that he believes he found convincing proof of the existence of living microorganisms on Mars in 1976, but the agency has since been unwilling to acknowledge what he sees as a clear fact.
Levin is hardly a conspiracy theorist or fringe “UFOlogist,” either—in addition to participating in that important 1976 NASA mission, he’s a respected engineer and inventor who founded the successful research company Spherix.
In the op-ed titled “I’m Convinced We Found Evidence of Life on Mars in the 1970s,” the scientist wrote:
“On July 30, 1976, the LR returned its initial results from Mars.
“Amazingly, they were positive. As the experiment progressed, a total of four positive results, supported by five varied controls, streamed down from the twin Viking spacecraft landed some 4,000 miles apart.”
Continuing, he wrote:
“The data curves signaled the detection of microbial respiration on the Red Planet. The curves from Mars were similar to those produced by LR tests of soils on Earth.
“It seemed we had answered that ultimate question.
The LR experiment led by Levin took samples from the Red Planet’s soil containing organic compounds, and then it looked for carbon dioxide. According to the former NASA researcher, the results indicated that the carbon dioxide was “being regenerated, possibly by microorganisms as on Earth.”
Some very cool points from Gilbert Levin.https://t.co/cWggDzYC74
— Jonathan D. Major (@JonathanDMajor1) October 12, 2019
However, NASA believed that the LR had only found a substance that mimicked life, but wasn’t truly alive. Levin accuses the space agency of then proceeding to ignore the findings.
Continuing, he wrote:
“Inexplicably, over the 43 years since Viking, none of NASA’s subsequent Mars landers has carried a life detection instrument to follow up on these exciting results.
“Instead the agency launched a series of missions to Mars to determine whether there was ever a habitat suitable for life and, if so, eventually to bring samples to Earth for biological examination.”
NASA continues to prioritize the search for life on Mars, with top NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine saying that microbial life could be found on Mars.
The agency has also made repeated visits to the planet.
And last November, the InSight lander touched Martin ground. Earlier this year, the InSight rover found evidence of a potentially vast global reservoir of water on Mars.
In August 2012, the Curiosity rover landed on Mars and detected a spike in methane levels that it still hasn’t been able to explain. On Earth, methane is the product of both geological and biological processes.
In a statement released in June, Sample Analysis at Mars Principal Investigator Paul Mahaffy of NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center said:
“With our current measurements, we have no way of telling if the methane source is biology or geology, or even ancient or modern.”
NASA’s Mars 2020 rover is set to launch next July before making the 140-million mile trek to Mars and landing on its Jezero Crater in February 2021. However, Levin criticized the Mars 2020 mission for not including “a life-detection test.”
Levin criticized the move, pleading:
“In keeping with well-established scientific protocol, I believe an effort should be made to put life detection experiments on the next Mars mission possible.”
This isn’t the first time that Levin has insisted that life was found on Mars over 40 years ago. On his website, a 1997 article notes that he had already concluded “that the LR had, indeed, discovered living microorganisms on the Red Planet.”
Concluding, the scientist proposed that an independent panel of experts should review the data from the Viking LR experiment he spearheaded. He wrote:
“Such an objective jury might conclude, as I did, that the Viking LR did find life. In any event, the study would likely produce important guidance for NASA’s pursuit of its holy grail.”