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Thursday, September 9, 2004

Life-Sensing Package Developed

Credit: Environment Nepal
Ever since the controversy after the Viking landers returned mixed results from its tests for life on Mars, scientists have been searching for better ways to search for life. To test their theories, they have traveled to the most inhospitable environments on Earth, such as the Atacama Desert and Antarctica, where life exists at the very limits of its ability.

Today, an international team of scientists believe that they have developed a system that "showed that if life on Mars resembles life on Earth at all, we'll be able to find even a single-cell," according to Dr. Andrew Steele of the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory. This is a far cry from the crude Viking tests and the infamous Labeled Release Experiment, that tested for chemical activity and was the only positive return. The system includes a large variety of devices, from spectroscopic instruments to a PTS, which can detect cell walls. The system was tested in a remote region of Norway, where conditions closely resemble those found on Mars at the origin of the 1996 meteorite that prompted "Life on Mars!" headlines. The team hopes that it will eventually be used to test for life on Mars and Europa.

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- posted by Brian @ 19:32 EST