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The LR pedigree
- Modern Myths Concerning Life on Mars
An unsolicited proposal to develop the LR (originally “Gulliver”) experiment was submitted to NASA in 1958. After extensive review, the proposal was funded in 1959. The experiment immediately showed promise. This was detailed in quarterly and annual reports submitted to NASA. A new proposal for continuation had to be submitted to NASA annually for review for continuation. There was constant interaction with NASA throughout the project. The Viking Project was formed in 1969, and NASA invited competition for life detection experiments. Many proposals were submitted, including that for the LR, which again underwent the evaluation process. The LR experiment was selected by the four review committees established by NASA. Members included personnel from NASA, NSF, NIH and academia. They all accepted LR’s criteria for life: evolution of 14C-labeled gas, followed by a heat-treated control producing little or no gas. Intensive reviews, scheduled and unscheduled, of the LR were performed frequently by NASA and Viking Project committees and “tiger teams” during the additional ten years of development, all of which further increased the high level of confidence in which its many reviewers held the LR experiment.
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