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The Viking mission search for life on MarsThe scientific payload on the Viking Mars landers is described. Shortly after landing, two facsimile cameras capable of stereoscopic imaging will scan the landing site area in black and white, color, and infrared to reveal gross evidence of past or present living systems. A wide range mass spectrometer will record a complete mass spectrum for soil samples from mass 12 to mass 200 every 10.3 sec. Three experiments based on different assumptions on the nature of life on Mars, if it exists, will be carried out by the bio-lab. A pyrolytic release experiment is designed to measure photosynthetic or dark fixation of carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide into organic compounds. A labelled release experiment will test for metabolic activity during incubation of a surface sample moistened with a solution of radioactively labelled simple organic compounds. A gas exchange experiment will detect changes in the gaseous medium surrounding a soil sample as the result of metabolic activity. The hardware, function, and terrestrial test results of the bio-lab experiments are discussed.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Klein, H. P.
(NASA Ames Research Center Mountain View, Calif., United States)
Lederberg, J.
(Stanford University Stanford, Calif., United States)
Rich, A.
(MIT Cambridge, Mass., United States)
Horowitz, N. H.
(California Institute of Technology Pasadena, Calif., United States)
Oyama, V. I.
(California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Levin, G. V.
(Biospherics, Inc. Rockville, Md., United States)
Date Acquired
August 8, 2013
Publication Date
July 1, 1976
Publication Information
Publication: Nature
Volume: 262
Subject Category
Space Biology
Accession Number
Distribution Limits

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