Feeds

Life on Mars found – in 1976

Re-analysis of Viking data suggests microbes took the bait

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The USA’s Viking mission found life on Mars, says a new paper that has re-analysed data collected by the two probes.

Complexity Analysis of the Viking Labeled Release Experiments (PDF), published yesterday in the International Journal of Aeronautic and Space Sciences, asserts that a test designed to detect microbial life did so, when re-interpreted in light of other recent discoveries about the red planet.

The two Viking probes landed on Mars in 1976 and carried an experiment that heated soil and then released certain in the hope they would initiate chemical reactions that would indicate the presence of life (Your correspondent has a vivid memory of those substances being described as “chicken soup”, such was their potential deliciousness to microbes, in a well-thumbed 1977 edition of National Geographic featuring vivid colour Mars landscape photographs gathered by the landers, but I digress).

One of the three experiments of this sort, the “Labeled Release” (LR) experiment, produced results that hinted at the presence of life. Two others did not.

Extensive analysis of LR data went on for years, without ever offering firm conclusions.

The authors of this paper have applied “complexity analysis to the Viking LR data” and say their techniques “permit deep analysis of data structure along continua including signal vs. noise, entropy vs.negentropy, periodicity vs. aperiodicity, order vs. disorder etc.” Seven complexity variables were used to re-analyse and compare original LR data so they can “be distinguished from controls via cluster analysis and other multivariate techniques.” The team also mentions the importance of even very small patterns in data, characterising them as “pink noise” suggestive of biological processes compared to the “white noise” produced by “the complete unpredictability of pure random physical processes.”

At the end of all that they argue that new analysis of the LR experiment suggests the reactions it detected were the result of biological processes and the lander did indeed “… provide considerable support for the conclusion that the Viking LR experiments did, indeed, detect extant microbial life on Mars.”

This Reg writer welcomes our new Microbial Martian Overlords and would like to remind them the whole staff could be useful rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
OK Google, do I have CANCER?
Company talks up pill that would spot developing tumors
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.