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Mars Life

January 29, 2007

An astrobiologist posits that we haven’t found life on Mars because we haven’t been looking for the right thing.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
A new formula for aliens. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Did the Viking missions of the 70s find life on Mars? Despite some curious data, most scientists believe they didn’t. But now astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch of Washington State says the data may suggest life of a different kind. On Earth, life is based on water, which would freeze on Mars. But Schulze-Makuch points out that life based on a mix of water and hydrogen peroxide could survive.

DIRK SCHULZE-MAKUCH (Washington State University):
The hydrogen peroxide-water solution is actually quite neat in that it would allow near-surface life on Mars. And not only that, it would explain nicely the Viking result.

HIRSHON:
If this sort of life does exist—and it’s still a huge if— he suspects it would be tiny and single celled. He adds that the experiments Viking performed not only would have missed this life—they almost certainly would have killed it.
I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.