It seems NASA may have already discovered life on Mars, according to a new report.
A report released by an international team of scientists and mathematicians concluded that new analysis of data from 36 years ago shows that NASA found life on Mars. The team of international researchers noted Thursday that they found close correlations between NASA Viking experiment results’ complexity and those of terrestrial biological data sets. Researchers say the high degree of order is more characteristic of biological, rather than purely physical processes, suggesting that bacteria likely resides on Mars.
The suggestion rested on a mathematical measurements of complexity to the data, which indicate a high degree of order that is more characteristic of a biological rather than a non-biological, purely physical process.
“The ultimate proof is to take a video of a Martian bacteria. They should send a microscope — watch the bacteria move,” Joseph Miller, with the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, said in an interview with Discovery News.
“To paraphrase an old saying, if it looks like a microbe and acts like a microbe, then it probably is a microbe,” added Mr. Miller. “The presence of circadian rhythmicity and a high degree of mathematical complexity most likely means Viking discovered microbial life on Mars over 35 years ago.”
In the experiments, the Viking landers dropped on Mars about 4,000 miles apart, scooped up soil samples and applied a radiolabeled nutrient cocktail to the soil. If microbes were present in the soil, they would likely metabolize the nutrient resulting in the release of CO2 or possibly methane (CH4).
Critics of Mr. Miller’s statement counter that the mathematical method has not yet been proven effective for differentiating between biological and non-biological processes on Earth so it’s premature to draw any conclusions.
The report comes as NASA has faced an increasingly tight budget for future missions to the Red Planet. The recently released budget for the U.S. space agency came under scrutiny earlier this year, following calls from the Obama administration for steep spending cuts.
The latest budget proposal of $17.7 billion, a decrease of 0.3 percent or $59 million from the 2012 budget, place the U.S. space agency at its lowest level of funding in four years. President Obama’s budget request for NASA includes a flat budget through 2017, with no out-year growth even for inflation, and is just the latest in a series of cost-cutting measures put forth by the Democratic administration.
Specifically, Mars exploration would be cut $226.2 million in fiscal 2013 under the new NASA budget request released Feb. 13, down from $587 million in the current fiscal year. The remaining $360.8 million will go for the nuclear-powered Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) now en route to the Red Planet, and the upcoming Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (Maven) orbiter scheduled for a launch in 2013 to study the planet’s upper atmosphere.