November 21, 2019

Great Discoveries are Sometimes Unacknowledged When They Happen

One of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes takes a moment to tell us that John Michael Godier has a 45 minute interview with  Dr. Patricia Ann Straat, who was in charge of the detect life experiment in the Viking Landers in '75/76.   She and her team thought they'd found life then but after some initial enthusiasm it was declared a false positive and then pretty much ignored after the new NASA leadership took over in '77. She and others have recently pointed out that the experiments alleged to debunk her team's claims were improperly done and she's got a very strong case that Martian life was detected in 1976. 

But wait. There's more!

"New evidence regarding organics and seasonal methane emissions seems to support her conclusions and if these pan out, it'll be important to remember that it was Dr. Straat and her team who first discovered life on Mars, probably before the first people who will first see it under a microscope were born. "

Time will tell but her argument seems compelling. Indeed, its looking more and more like she's right and that the decision to not put any life detecting experiments on the subsequent probes was ill-conceived at best. She has a book on the topic that is, for some reason, not available in the usual places but you can buy it here.

Full Disclosure: "Science Babe" is actually Makise Kurisu from Stein's Gate, but you know that, because you've seen it, unless you haven't in which case you're wrong.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 10:19 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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1 We need more info for anything to be conclusive, probably. One bit of information is far too small for all the things we would want to know about life on Mars, if it exists.

As a grad student, it was amazing how hard it was to get repeatable, reliable results from an experiment when you could open up the chamber and fix things, restart things, kick things, resolder bad connections, etc. (In my case, I got a negative result for what I was searching for.)

For something that's millions of miles away on a robot probe with limited manipulators, it's amazing they got results that could even be classified as "positive" or "negative" instead of "huh?". It's amazing they could propulsively *land* the thing with the technology of the time.

Posted by: MadRocketSci at Mon Nov 25 10:57:09 2019 (K+Kza)

2 Could still be an inorganic reaction with an oxidizing chemical in the soil. The heated soil test seems like they controlled for that, but they could also have baked out the active inorganic chemical too in the low pressure atmosphere.

Need more testing. Need a robot with microscopes and slides. Need moar info.

Posted by: MadRocketSci at Mon Nov 25 11:06:05 2019 (K+Kza)

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