Vik­ing lan­ders

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Tar­get: Mars

The Vik­ing lan­ders car­ried a ‘La­belled Re­lease’ ex­per­i­ment that ‘fed’ sam­ples of Mar­tian soil with nu­tri­ents that were tagged with a ra­dioac­tive car­bon iso­tope. The rocks sub­se­quently re­leased ra­dioac­tive CO2 gas, pos­si­bly in­di­cat­ing that mi­crobes in the soil had pro­cessed the nu­tri­ents. How­ever, at­tempts to re­peat the test were met with neg­a­tive re­sults, so the case for life is not proven. Later probes dis­cov­ered po­ten­tially toxic per­chlo­rate chem­i­cals on the Mar­tian sur­face, so any Mar­tian life might only sur­vive be­low ground.

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