Life on Mars was discovered 50 years ago and then eradicated – astrobiologist

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Yet, an alternative theory exists. Professor Dirk Schulz-McKoch, an authority on planetary habitation and astrobiology at the Technical University of Berlin, posits that including water in the experiment might have been an oversight, potentially leading to the demise of the very bacteria being sought.

In a June publication in BigThink magazine, he cites Earth-based life thriving in extreme environments, such as bacteria within salt rocks that draw moisture from the air. Submerging these bacteria in water could prove fatal, potentially explaining the absence of radioactive gas detection despite additional nutrient injections. Prof. Schultz-McKoch had previously proposed the possibility of Martian life containing hydrogen peroxide within their cells. In a 2007 study, he outlined the advantages of such a configuration for Martian life, including a low freezing point, a source of oxygen, and hygroscopicity.

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He suggests, “If we consider the hypothesis that Martian life evolved to incorporate hydrogen peroxide into its cells, it could elucidate the outcomes of the Viking program’s experiments.” He adds, amusingly, that the gas chromatograph mass spectrometer subjected samples to heating before analysis. “If Martian cells contained hydrogen peroxide, this could have proven fatal. Additionally, it might have triggered a reaction between the hydrogen peroxide and organic molecules, generating substantial carbon dioxide—precisely what the device detected.”

Although speculative, this notion posits that humanity possibly encountered life on Mars nearly five decades ago, inadvertently terminating it shortly after the discovery.

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