Published On: Thu, Jul 12th, 2018

Report: NASA Burned Up Proof of Mars Life 40 Years Ago

A NASA rover has recently discovered organic material that could confirm proof of life on Mars — evidence that previous NASA probes reportedly turned up 40-plus years ago, then accidentally burned it up.

New Scientist reported it is likely one or both of NASA's twin Viking landers came across the very same evidence.

But they apparently burned up the evidence and it took another 40 years before more evidence was found, the report maintained.

In the paper, lead author Chris McKay of NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley suggests the evidence might have been lost when the Viking landers tested soil samples. He explained the practice was for rovers to heat samples to release vapors for further analysis. But the technique likely ignited a flammable salt called perchlorate, which destroyed the ancient organic matter.

More recently, the Curiosity rover discovered traces of chlorobenzene in some soil samples. It is a compound produced only when carbon molecules burn with the flammable salt.

The discovery not only confirms the discovery of organic material that could be proof of life — but that previous evidence was likely destroyed some 40 years ago when the soil samples were heated up by the rovers, The Weather Channel reported.

"Are there signs of life on Mars? We don't know, but these results tell us we are on the right track," Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program, said last month, The Weather Channel reported.

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Report: NASA Burned Up Proof of Mars Life 40 Years Ago