Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Life On Mars?

By Morris Jones

New NASA claims of Martian life in a meteorite discovered in Antarctica haven’t convinced astrobiologists.

Dr Morris Jones is an Australian space analyst and writer.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

We’ve looked across space through telescopes, thrown dozens of space missions at the planet and studied chunks of Mars that have fallen to Earth. Still, we don’t know for sure if there is life on Mars, but that hasn’t prevented vigorous and sometimes caustic debate for decades.

Throughout all this, one Australian scientist has held his ground as a well-informed skeptic, rebutting much of the opinions and wishful thinking that has surfaced. Prof Malcolm Walter is the Director of the Australian Centre for Astrobiology at the University of New South Wales. He has more than three decades of research experience in tracing the development of early microbial life on Earth, and has extended his reach to the search for life on other planets.

He genuinely believes that life existed on Mars in its ancient past, and probably still exists there today. But let’s get irrefutable proof before we make any claims to have discovered it! So far, according to Walter, solid evidence for life on Mars is still lacking despite the claims of some other scientists.

The first phase of seriously searching for life on Mars came in the 1970s, when two Viking landers touched down on the surface. Each lander had a small biological laboratory. Soil samples were incubated with various mixtures of water, gases and nutrients to see how they would react. The goal was to find evidence of...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.