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Biology Articles » Astrobiology » Modern Myths Concerning Life on Mars » Future life detection experiments

Future life detection experiments
- Modern Myths Concerning Life on Mars

It has been stated that newer, more modern methods should replace the LR in future life-seeking missions. While additional methods should certainly be sought, the abandonment of the LR technology is contrary to the teachings of science. Whether from life or not, the LR obtained a startling result on Mars. The scientific method teaches that, when a new finding is made, the best and least risky way to expand that beachhead of knowledge is to refine and re-apply the tool that made the initial discovery. Leeuwenhoek’s microscope, which opened the science of microbiology, was not discarded for, say, methods seeking to detect the sounds of microbes. Leeuwenhoek’s instrument was ardently developed into its modern descendants. However, the LR method has been cast aside for 30 years, and the extraterrestrial life detection methods now being developed will seek “biomarkers,” molecules normally associated with life. However, their results, if positive, will not pass the test of Ockham’s Razor – just as the findings of what seem to be microbial fossils in Martian rocks did not. Unless active metabolism is demonstrated, it is unlikely that any experimental results will overcome scientific skepticism.

Most lamentable is the fact that no life detection test has been sent to Mars since Viking, nor even an experiment to confirm or identify the “strong oxidant,” that produced the LR signal on Mars. The confirmation of such a surprising chemical activity of the surface of Mars would, itself, constitute a major scientific finding, which should have been sought in landings subsequent to Viking. Furthermore, the data from the one billion 1976 dollars spent on Viking have not yet been objectively reviewed for evidence of life. No credible scientific refutation of the LR results has been published, yet subjective statements such as “The scientific community does not accept the LR results as evidence for life” are commonplace.

A logical next step in pursuing the life on Mars question is the chiral adaption of the LR experiment, which builds on that experiment’s legacy rather than abandon it. All known forms of life exhibit an exclusive or very strong preference for “left-handed” amino acids and “right-handed” carbohydrates over their respective enantiomers. The Chiral LR experiment to detect active chiral metabolism, photosynthesis and circadian rhythm is shown in Figures 16 and 17. While any chemical or “biosignature” can be refuted through the application of Ockham’s Razor, the demonstration of active metabolism by any of these three methods would constitute indisputable proof of life. The Chiral LR experiment could not only prove the existence of life to even the most resistant to the Mars LR results, but could determine whether that life is related to ours. The most exciting result would be finding that it is not, thereby demonstrating a second, independent genesis, strongly implying that life must be plentiful throughout the universe - another paradigm-breaker. I have proposed the Chiral LR experiment to various space agencies many times, formally and informally, without its acceptance. Here and now, I propose it again.


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