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TODAY JANUARY 20, 2020
2007-08-25

Joop Houtkooper claim: Scientists found life on Mars back in the 70s

Life on Mars was found back in the 70s!?
23/08/2007

New interpretation of data: the soil on Mars may be teeming with microbes.
Accordingly, Mars is home to “extremophiles”

The search for life on Mars was conducted in 1976 by Viking landers. Then it failed to detect biological activity.

Ten years later NASA said it had found evidence of life in a Mars meteorite. Doubts have been cast on that finding later.

Now, Joop Houtkooper from Justus-Liebig-University in Giessen, Germany, claims the Viking encountered evidence of a strange life form based on the compound of hydrogen peroxide. Note that Martian surface is subfreezing, arid.

Houtkooper's analysis of the experiments from Viking spacecraft, in collaboration with geophysicist, Dirk Schulze-Makuch of Washington State University, Pullman, gives evidence that 0.1 percent of the Martian soil is of biological origin. Joop Houtkooper tells the European Planetary Science Congress in Potsdam, Germany this week.

That amount is similar to levels observed in some Antarctic permafrost, where a range of hardy bacteria and lichen live. Due to Houtkooper, this amount, i.e. 0.1% is not too low.

According to Houtkooper, it is a possibility that life has been transported from Earth to Mars or vice verse. On Earth, microbes are observed to live in environments previously thought too hostile. This strengthens the hypothesis of extraterrestrial life.

Houtkooper suggests that “extremophiles” live on Mars. These microbes have cells which are filled with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water. The Martian environment is cold and dry. Such a mixture is very helpful in the following sense. The freezing point of hydrogen peroxide is as low as -56.5 C (for a certain concentration of peroxide). Below that temperature it becomes solid but remains amorphous. In other words, it does not form crystals, like pure water ice, which can destroy cells. Another advantage is that hydrogen peroxide is hygroscopic, i.e. it attracts water vapour from the environment. This is important since liquid water is rare on Mars.

Houtkooper suggests that presence such hydrogen-peroxide-filled microbes can explain so far unexplained rises in oxygen and carbon dioxide in experiments in which NASA’s Viking lenders incubated Martian soil. His calculations are based on the biomass of Martian soil and on the assumption that these unexplained gases were produced due to breakdown of organic material.
Hydrogen peroxide is known to be powerful oxidant. If a cell is drying, after dying, it would strongly reduce the amount of organic material near the cell. This can explain why Viking’s gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer did not detect organic compounds on Mars.

Similarly, on Earth, such experiments can not detect organic compounds in places, such as Antarctic dry valleys. Yet it is well known that in such places soil microorganisms do exist. Thus Viking's spectroscopic experiment does not provide a solid proof that there is no organic life on Mars.



Joop Houtkooper claim: Scientists found life on Mars back in the 70s

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