Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsAstronomy & Space · 1 month ago

in 1975 one viking experiment may have detected life on mars through oxygen release. scientists dismissed the results but never followed up?

they simply dismissed the finding out of hand without definitively ruling out the possibility that living organisms could be responsible for releasing the oxygen or determining what mechanisms were responsible for the false positive finding if not life. multiple mars rovers have had ample opportunities to repeat the experiment and analyze once and for all what processes were responsible for the allegedly specious results. if living organisms did not release the oxygen then scientists need to prove that and perform experiments to determine once and for all what chemical processes on mars are really responsible for mimicking the behavior of living organisms. why haven't they included experiments on the rovers to pursue the question?

2 Answers

  • 1 month ago

    Because they have better things to do. Surprising as it may be to some, astronomy is not about the study of life, it is about the study of stars, planets, nebulae and galaxies. Biologists are the people who study life. If you want to study life you send an expedition to the Amazon, Borneo or the nearest swamp. Scientists don't spend a billion dollars going to Mars just to look for boogers that they could far more cheaply find on Earth.

  • 1 month ago

    Yes, I also find that odd.  It is part of the scientific method to look for alternative explanations given the findings, but I suspect it's partly about not wanting to announce something which, if it's wrong, would be embarrassing, risk losing funding and damage careers.  Thomas Kuhn's 'The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions' has much that's relevant to say on this.

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