July 30, 2006 marked the 30th anniversary of the Viking Mission’s first Labeled Release (LR) life detection experiment on Mars. Its strongly positive response established the presence of an active agent(s) in the Martian soil. In subsequent runs, the response from the soil was shown to be eliminated or substantially reduced by heating or by months-long storage in the dark at about 10o C, within the Martian ambient surface temperature. Similar responses were obtained at the two Viking landing sites some 4,000 miles apart. The data satisfied and, through improvised additional LR sequences, exceeded the pre-mission criteria set for the detection of living microorganisms. However, the results were treated very cautiously, and the general scientific community concluded that the activity in the soil was chemical or physical, rather than biological.
Over the last three decades, the scientific investigation of Mars has greatly increased. Soil, rock and atmospheric analyses have been made on Mars. Multi-spectral observations have been made from orbit, and telescopic observations made from Earth. Our knowledge concerning extreme habitats on Earth and bizarre life forms that inhabit them has increased dramatically. However, this vast amount of new astrobiological information has yet to be integrated into a scientific evaluation of the possibilities and prospects for life on Mars. Indeed, despite these recent findings, and, in part, based upon their misinterpretations, a demonstrably erroneous “standard model” for Martian life has been developed. The model has been accepted by much of the astrobiological community, and, through its endorsement, the world at large. This paper attempts to bring together the relevant discrete findings about life on Mars, and justify a revision of the current consensus.