Mars organics get new lease on life

Viking mission may have destroyed compounds that make biology possible while trying to detect them

By Ron Cowen, 15:18 PM September 8, 2010

Martian soil could contain the building blocks of carbon-based life after all, a new study suggests, despite the negative results of an analysis performed by the Viking missions 34 years ago.

When the Viking landers touched down on Mars in 1976 and scooped up soil samples, scientists were surprised that the two craft failed to unearth evidence that the Red Planet contained any organic compounds. The apparent lack of organic molecules — a basic requirement for carbon-based organisms — helped...

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