I have finished my new book and really need the insight of members of your group. It will be available on Amazon fairly soon but I am willing to send potential reviewers a .doc file to read.

Here is a synopsis:

Synopsis:

 

Exobiologists, rocketeers and engineers

Inside NASA’s 60 Year Quest for Life in Space

From Rick Eyerdam

 

                   

 

A dozen genius scientists decided the Universe is full of life because there is life on earth. They call themselves Exobiologist and appoint Carl Sagan as their front man. They believe life is an accident of chance and we must not send our microbes to other planets where the life accident could also have happened, yet we must go to search for life.

 

The Exobiologists take over the US scientific search for life in space and incur the animus of the geologists and engineers who believe they are nuts. The geologist and engineers do not want to spend extra billions sterilizing their equipment before it goes in space. (They still don’t) They are certain the money could be better spent shoving aside Exobiology in favor of geology and meteorology. The tension among these powerful figures and their related institutions is the narrative thread of the book. The success of the Exobiologists against all odds is the heart of the story. And the success of two men, an engineer and an engineer Exobiologist is what moves the narrative from informative to fascinating and memorable, if not historic.

 

NASA’s 60 year quest for life on Mars began on Earth in Russia and England in the early 20th Century with the publication of two highly speculative books suggesting that life arose on Earth not by the hand of God but by lucky serendipity. According to Oparin and Haldane, when the right chemicals were exposed billions of times to each other in the presence of some inanimate energy source the billions-of-years-long cosmic chair dance resulted in the formation of a living organism that evolved into life as we know it today.

 

The book describes the evolution of that remarkable theory and the dozen or so geniuses who advocated the theory of chemical evolution and the science behind the theory. These geniuses, several Nobel Prize winners, several who were sons of Rabbis, one who was the son of Roman Vishniac and one who was the first Science Superstar of the 20th Century – Carl Sagan - were all revered in the soaring fields of biology and microbiology and planetary science. Together they formed a coalition to protect the planets from biological infestation by Earth microbes. They did this even before the US or Russia rose above the atmosphere.

 

Nobel Prize winner Joshua Lederberg was the leader. Along with his 22-year-old understudy, Carl Sagan, they set the ground rules for space craft sterilization and founded the new science they called Exobiology – the study of life beyond Earth. The book describes in detail the recruitment and development of the Exobiologists who had no laboratory, nothing to study and no way to conduct scientific research unless they could get a ride on space ship to a place beyond earth.

 

This worked out perfectly for NASA in its earliest days. The engineers at the Langley Research Center and its offspring research agencies were in the business of looking far into the future and imaging new engineering feats, especially where it came to flight in the atmosphere. Rockets raised the horizon to infinity. But they demanded little engineering achievement beyond greater lifting power and better aerodynamics. When living passengers entered the equation the stakes were greatly increased and the burden. But good engineering was set aside by the frantic space race between the US and the Soviets. We talk about the political and engineering dynamics of those 1950s and 1960s conditions.

 

The visionaries, lead by Wherner Von Braun had been planning missions to Mars since the 1930’s with wondrous schemes to get there. We talk about those. But the nuts and bolts of development for launching systems and the protection of cargo defined a 30 year process to do space science correctly. We talk about that in detail. The constraints of time, expense and technological achievement were relieved somewhat by the race to build larger launch vehicles for larger nuclear weapons, shoving aside science. At the height of the space race there were several realities:

 

1. The Russians had one space agency and a government that did not require competitive bidding. So the Russians were very focused in their efforts. Their problem was an inability to develop miniaturized payloads that actually worked in space. So the Russians built one big rocket engine then figured a way to strap several together and lift loads ten times larger than US space launch vehicles. Today virtually all US deep space mission use a newer model of that basic Soviet rocket engine purchased from a US/Russian conglomerate.

 

2. Von Braun was given the job of converting his V2 into a heavy lift rocket for tactical deployment. But he was not capable. His only significant contribution was the Saturn and Saturn V very heavy lift rockets that were so jiggy each launch was a catastrophe in the making.

 

3. For the most part in early space science and manned missions NASA used converted military rockets from sources other than the Van Braun design team. They were patch work launch vehicles and the long range space mission infrastructure was equally undependable. So NASA doubled everything that counted. If one computer would do the job they would use four. Each Mariner Mission included two identical vehicles, ditto for Viking, for example. We talk a lot about that in the context of the life search payloads.

 

4. Instead of a unified agency focused on one lifting system the US funded competitive systems sponsored by five different NASA-related research agencies and their allies among a dozen university research laboratories and hundreds of aerospace contractors and subcontractors. Because of the arms race and the race to the moon, this group that Eisenhower called the military industrial complex grew into a robust military, industrial, academic complex.

 

As early as 1960, aerospace industry bean counters and long term planners realized that the arms race might not end but the moon race would. And then what would be compelling enough to justify the vast and growing taxpayer investment in space technology?

 

Science was good. But alien life was better. Lederberg delivered an agenda as profound as the Search for the Golden Fleece. Let’s find out whether god made life or if it happened by accident. NASA and the rest of the complex was spoon fed this incredible Exobiology idea slowly but inevitably. We talk a lot about the emergence of microbiology and cell science and its significance in understanding life.

 

Every different living species needs DNA in different amounts. DNA is essential to life because DNA is the only way a living organism can teach its offspring how to grow from a single celled embryo to a fully formed living organism. DNA is crammed with information but it is made from a relatively few molecules. In fact it is comprised of many, but not all of the molecules that Exobiologist Stanley Miller (another character in our book) generated in his game-changing experiment to prove the possibility of spontaneous chemical evolution without help from God. Miller’s chemical brew produced the kinds of primitive molecules that could have danced the cosmic chair dance and turned into the most primitive living protein or amino acid microbes given enough time; tens of trillions of chair dances over billions and billions of years.

 

 

Just before the exobiologists began their takeover of the space program, George Wald defined the basic tenant of the glorious new religion of exobiology: Chemical evolution. 

 

In "The Origin of “Life,” part of the  Simon and Schuster collection Physics and the Chemistry of Life Wald wrote, “The important point is that since the origin of life belongs in the category of at-least-once phenomena, time is on its side. However improbable we regard this event...given enough time it will almost certainly happen at least once... Time is in fact the hero of the plot. The time with which we have to deal is of the order of two billion years. What we regard as impossible on the basis of human experience is meaningless here. Given so much time, the 'impossible' becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain. One has only to wait: time itself performs miracles."

This remarkable act of faith in blind chance is the reason the United States and Russia, among others have spent billions of dollars trying to learn how to learn how to identify what is really alive on earth and on Mars.

 

 

We also talk about a young engineer who worked at Langley in mechanical engineering. Terrence Francis McNulty is the unsung hero of the search for life on Mars. In 1964, when the bosses at Langley were worried about long term budget growth, McNulty was told to figure out a way to fly to Mars and land scientific instruments to look for life. He had no idea where Mars was, had no background in rockets or payloads or inter-solar system travel. We follow his rise, along with his team of Merry Martians as they confront the all-powerful Jet Propulsion Laboratory team and win the right to plan the first landing of a research mission to seek life on Mars.

 

Our other main character is another engineer, Gilbert Levin. He is a sanitary engineer with a million great ideas. One of them is to label fecal bacterial by feeding them the stuff they like to eat along with a tiny amount of radiated material. The idea was to test a water supply that might be contaminated. Feed the microbes. Give them a little time to grow. Pass them in front of a Geiger counter and count the amount of contamination. Take that sample, kill it off and measure the signal. If it is gone they are dead.

 

At a Washington cocktail party in the early 60’s Levin was talking about his fast, simple way to detect poisoning of the water supply by the Commies when he learned the US was going to go hunting for microbes on Mars. His device was perfect, he thought, because all it needed was a sample, a bit of irradiated food and a Geiger counter. Levin himself provided the details of our section in the book about the development, political blowback, competition, meanness and ultimate success of his experiment on Mars and afterward. This is a big section of the book that reaches its Zenith when Dr. Gerald Soffen, the chief scientist on the Viking team to discover life on Mars in 1976 tells a persistent National Enquirer reporter that NASA has indeed found evidence of life on Mars with Levin’s experiment.

 

The rest of the book follows the methods NASA employed to backtrack from that clear statement while Levin labored to prove his results were correct. That narrative, while condensed, covers more than 20 years while the search for life on Mars and on earth continued as if the Viking mission and its results had never been published, juried and proven. We document how that happened and why.

 

Fewer than a hundred years ago all of human science, all of mankind in fact believed what the scientists told them; that the galaxy around the earth, the Milky Way Galaxy, constituted the entirety of the universe.  The dimensions of that error are almost impossible to calculate. Recently astronomers with a small telescope in the clear air at the South Pole peeked at one tiny old section of the real universe and found 800 trillion suns that are 7 billion light years away from our Milky Way spiral galaxy, which is one of trillions.

 

In the 1950s – even before the first planetary mission - US and Russian scientists began to agitate for missions to Mars to prove or disprove the elaborate theory of godless creation that was called chemical evolution. Few among the biologists and physiologists in the 1950s believed that life could be manufactured by accident when a small set of molecules were inspired by lightening or some other energy under the perfect set of circumstances.

But Joshua Lederberg, Norman Horowitz, Harold Urey, Stanley Miller, Carl Sagan and their tight, enlightened circle were as absolutely certain as George Wald that all it would take is trillions of chances over billions of years for the first microbe to accidentally come to life in a flash of lightening amid a brew of the right molecules. For those who did not believe in a single act of creation the evidence for chemical evolution was perfectly clear because the earth is populated with living organisms and has been for more than 3.7 million years. How else could they get here?

 

In the 1950s the chemical evolution theories of the Russian/Communist Aleksandr Oparin (in 1924), and the Englishman/Socialist John Haldane (in 1929) were reinforced by the experiments of Stanley Miller. Oparin and Haldane assumed that the early earth’s atmosphere was devoid of oxygen and the first life forms could somehow turn basic chemical gasses into materials related to amino acids which are the building blocks of DNA - life as we know it. That started Urey, Lederberg, Horowitz, Vishniac, and Sagan – to preach the possibility that life also began on Mars or Venus through a similar sequence of chemical evolutionary accidents. Although they had no idea what life is and no evidence of life beyond earth, the exobiologists, as they called themselves, were able to derail billions of dollars from the US and Russian government budgets for their agenda to learn how to learn how to look for microbial life on Mars and Venus.

 

That act of faith was strong enough to propel the US and Russians on their course to Mars and the planets as surely as faith in the Apostles’ Credo was able to propel Europe’s peasant crusaders to liberate the Holy Land. But in the years between 1960 and today the theory that life began on Earth through chemical evolution has endured some very persuasive criticism. The earth as we know it may be too young to accommodate the chemical evolutionary clock. Many now believe the early earth atmosphere was different than the one the chemical evolution doctrine suggested.

 

There is no question that the exobiologists were missing one third of the early tree of life. They had no idea that a separate family of microbes not only exited but could flourish under intense pressure, extreme temperatures, freezing cold or beyond the inspiration of any sunlight.

 

They were certain that organic molecules traveled the galaxy aboard meteors and comets. They were certain that Mars must be covered with organic debris left behind and somehow preserved from billions of years of meteor bombardment, as was the case on earth. But they were not ready to accept the possibility that a few of those organic molecule passengers on the cosmic rocks and ice balls were actually living microbes.

 

These newer discoveries suggest that chemical evolution could have taken place some place other than our Earth. And if life did not begin on Earth through chemical evolution, then we have a real Meshuggeneh.

 

In the beginning the exobiologists were branded Lowellians as if they were as wrong as Lowell about the possibility of intelligent life building canals on Mars. The missions to Mars proved both sides wrong and the world benefited. Lowell’s idea of a populated planet laced with canals was disproven as conclusively as were Norman Horowitz and Bruce Murray who were equally certain Mars had to be dead because it had never enjoyed the splash of an ocean, never felt an atmospheric breeze nor shuddered before a massive geological event.

 

NASA, the exobiologists and a generation of their scientist acolytes who believed in the doctrine of chemical evolution have demonized Gilbert Levin, our collaborator and technical editor. He is the engineer who carried none of the exobiologists’ baggage and cared less about chemical evolution. Levin the engineer built a machine that matched a purpose based upon the information provided to him. It worked exactly on Mars the way it had in the sewers of California. It was not his fault the rest of the mission was so poorly designed. It was not his fault that the entire Viking life search mission was contorted to pivot on Klaus Biemann’s GCMS that was neither strong enough to identify a gram of living microbes nor tuned enough to distinguish between peroxides in the soil, perchlorates in the soil or cleaning solvents tragically left inside his ovens through inadequate sterilization.

 

Each time NASA rewrites its history it does so as favorably as possible in the light of a hundred new discoveries that inevitably demonstrate how NASA was winging it at almost every step. A diligent reading of this book shows that NASA was spending money like a grifter who thinks he knows the outcome of the race when it really had no idea even which horses were in the field.

 

The latest iteration of the NASA cannon, written by NASA chief historian Steven Dick and published in 2004 suggests it could be possible Levin was correct all along.

 

“The case for life on Mars perked up,” Dick writes, “with a prominent article in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which argued that the Viking GCMS would have been unable to detect some of the most likely organic compounds delivered to the Martian surface by meteorites.”

 

Then Dick offers this official NASA historian insight. “In retrospect,” he says, “some have argued that the GCMS was too insensitive to detect organic mater in amounts found in the number of cells suggested by Levin’s interpretation of the LR (Gulliver) data.”

 

He says, “It had been assumed in the instrument’s design that if cells (microbes) were able to grow, higher levels of organics must be present all around them.”

Dr. Dick casts off this incredibly wrong assumption in the design of the key Viking instrument as if it doesn’t matter or didn’t matter. Yet the result of this incorrect assumption leads to an inadequate design that results in the dismissal of the results reported by Gulliver.

 

Dick continues, “Further discoveries of subsurface water ice by Mars Odyssey in February and March 2002 have continued to reveal, much like the observations of Mariner 4, that Mars is a sufficiently complex place to repeatedly overturn past scientific certainties. Levin has been vindicated on a number of points.”

 

Today we know that there is enough water on Mars that some of it is running down the sides of canyons. Curiosity has confirmed what Levin reported in 1976, that Martian soil contains at least 2% water, enough to sustain microbial life in several earthly habitats. NASA’s search for life on Mars is a long story that is probably on the threshold of a happy ending.

 

 

Synopsis:

 

 

 

 

Exobiologists, rocketeers and engineers

Inside NASA’s 60 Year Quest for Life in Space

From Rick Eyerdam

 

                   

 

A dozen genius scientists decided the Universe is full of life because there is life on earth. They call themselves Exobiologist and appoint Carl Sagan as their front man. They believe life is an accident of chance and we must not send our microbes to other planets where the life accident could also have happened, yet we must go to search for life.

 

The Exobiologists take over the US scientific search for life in space and incur the animus of the geologists and engineers who believe they are nuts. The geologist and engineers do not want to spend extra billions sterilizing their equipment before it goes in space. (They still don’t) They are certain the money could be better spent shoving aside Exobiology in favor of geology and meteorology. The tension among these powerful figures and their related institutions is the narrative thread of the book. The success of the Exobiologists against all odds is the heart of the story. And the success of two men, an engineer and an engineer Exobiologist is what moves the narrative from informative to fascinating and memorable, if not historic.

 

NASA’s 60 year quest for life on Mars began on Earth in Russia and England in the early 20th Century with the publication of two highly speculative books suggesting that life arose on Earth not by the hand of God but by lucky serendipity. According to Oparin and Haldane, when the right chemicals were exposed billions of times to each other in the presence of some inanimate energy source the billions-of-years-long cosmic chair dance resulted in the formation of a living organism that evolved into life as we know it today.

 

The book describes the evolution of that remarkable theory and the dozen or so geniuses who advocated the theory of chemical evolution and the science behind the theory. These geniuses, several Nobel Prize winners, several who were sons of Rabbis, one who was the son of Roman Vishniac and one who was the first Science Superstar of the 20th Century – Carl Sagan - were all revered in the soaring fields of biology and microbiology and planetary science. Together they formed a coalition to protect the planets from biological infestation by Earth microbes. They did this even before the US or Russia rose above the atmosphere.

 

Nobel Prize winner Joshua Lederberg was the leader. Along with his 22-year-old understudy, Carl Sagan, they set the ground rules for space craft sterilization and founded the new science they called Exobiology – the study of life beyond Earth. The book describes in detail the recruitment and development of the Exobiologists who had no laboratory, nothing to study and no way to conduct scientific research unless they could get a ride on space ship to a place beyond earth.

 

This worked out perfectly for NASA in its earliest days. The engineers at the Langley Research Center and its offspring research agencies were in the business of looking far into the future and imaging new engineering feats, especially where it came to flight in the atmosphere. Rockets raised the horizon to infinity. But they demanded little engineering achievement beyond greater lifting power and better aerodynamics. When living passengers entered the equation the stakes were greatly increased and the burden. But good engineering was set aside by the frantic space race between the US and the Soviets. We talk about the political and engineering dynamics of those 1950s and 1960s conditions.

 

The visionaries, lead by Wherner Von Braun had been planning missions to Mars since the 1930’s with wondrous schemes to get there. We talk about those. But the nuts and bolts of development for launching systems and the protection of cargo defined a 30 year process to do space science correctly. We talk about that in detail. The constraints of time, expense and technological achievement were relieved somewhat by the race to build larger launch vehicles for larger nuclear weapons, shoving aside science. At the height of the space race there were several realities:

 

1. The Russians had one space agency and a government that did not require competitive bidding. So the Russians were very focused in their efforts. Their problem was an inability to develop miniaturized payloads that actually worked in space. So the Russians built one big rocket engine then figured a way to strap several together and lift loads ten times larger than US space launch vehicles. Today virtually all US deep space mission use a newer model of that basic Soviet rocket engine purchased from a US/Russian conglomerate.

 

2. Von Braun was given the job of converting his V2 into a heavy lift rocket for tactical deployment. But he was not capable. His only significant contribution was the Saturn and Saturn V very heavy lift rockets that were so jiggy each launch was a catastrophe in the making.

 

3. For the most part in early space science and manned missions NASA used converted military rockets from sources other than the Van Braun design team. They were patch work launch vehicles and the long range space mission infrastructure was equally undependable. So NASA doubled everything that counted. If one computer would do the job they would use four. Each Mariner Mission included two identical vehicles, ditto for Viking, for example. We talk a lot about that in the context of the life search payloads.

 

4. Instead of a unified agency focused on one lifting system the US funded competitive systems sponsored by five different NASA-related research agencies and their allies among a dozen university research laboratories and hundreds of aerospace contractors and subcontractors. Because of the arms race and the race to the moon, this group that Eisenhower called the military industrial complex grew into a robust military, industrial, academic complex.

 

As early as 1960, aerospace industry bean counters and long term planners realized that the arms race might not end but the moon race would. And then what would be compelling enough to justify the vast and growing taxpayer investment in space technology?

 

Science was good. But alien life was better. Lederberg delivered an agenda as profound as the Search for the Golden Fleece. Let’s find out whether god made life or if it happened by accident. NASA and the rest of the complex was spoon fed this incredible Exobiology idea slowly but inevitably. We talk a lot about the emergence of microbiology and cell science and its significance in understanding life.

 

Every different living species needs DNA in different amounts. DNA is essential to life because DNA is the only way a living organism can teach its offspring how to grow from a single celled embryo to a fully formed living organism. DNA is crammed with information but it is made from a relatively few molecules. In fact it is comprised of many, but not all of the molecules that Exobiologist Stanley Miller (another character in our book) generated in his game-changing experiment to prove the possibility of spontaneous chemical evolution without help from God. Miller’s chemical brew produced the kinds of primitive molecules that could have danced the cosmic chair dance and turned into the most primitive living protein or amino acid microbes given enough time; tens of trillions of chair dances over billions and billions of years.

 

 

Just before the exobiologists began their takeover of the space program, George Wald defined the basic tenant of the glorious new religion of exobiology: Chemical evolution. 

 

In "The Origin of “Life,” part of the  Simon and Schuster collection Physics and the Chemistry of Life Wald wrote, “The important point is that since the origin of life belongs in the category of at-least-once phenomena, time is on its side. However improbable we regard this event...given enough time it will almost certainly happen at least once... Time is in fact the hero of the plot. The time with which we have to deal is of the order of two billion years. What we regard as impossible on the basis of human experience is meaningless here. Given so much time, the 'impossible' becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain. One has only to wait: time itself performs miracles."

This remarkable act of faith in blind chance is the reason the United States and Russia, among others have spent billions of dollars trying to learn how to learn how to identify what is really alive on earth and on Mars.

 

 

We also talk about a young engineer who worked at Langley in mechanical engineering. Terrence Francis McNulty is the unsung hero of the search for life on Mars. In 1964, when the bosses at Langley were worried about long term budget growth, McNulty was told to figure out a way to fly to Mars and land scientific instruments to look for life. He had no idea where Mars was, had no background in rockets or payloads or inter-solar system travel. We follow his rise, along with his team of Merry Martians as they confront the all-powerful Jet Propulsion Laboratory team and win the right to plan the first landing of a research mission to seek life on Mars.

 

Our other main character is another engineer, Gilbert Levin. He is a sanitary engineer with a million great ideas. One of them is to label fecal bacterial by feeding them the stuff they like to eat along with a tiny amount of radiated material. The idea was to test a water supply that might be contaminated. Feed the microbes. Give them a little time to grow. Pass them in front of a Geiger counter and count the amount of contamination. Take that sample, kill it off and measure the signal. If it is gone they are dead.

 

At a Washington cocktail party in the early 60’s Levin was talking about his fast, simple way to detect poisoning of the water supply by the Commies when he learned the US was going to go hunting for microbes on Mars. His device was perfect, he thought, because all it needed was a sample, a bit of irradiated food and a Geiger counter. Levin himself provided the details of our section in the book about the development, political blowback, competition, meanness and ultimate success of his experiment on Mars and afterward. This is a big section of the book that reaches its Zenith when Dr. Gerald Soffen, the chief scientist on the Viking team to discover life on Mars in 1976 tells a persistent National Enquirer reporter that NASA has indeed found evidence of life on Mars with Levin’s experiment.

 

The rest of the book follows the methods NASA employed to backtrack from that clear statement while Levin labored to prove his results were correct. That narrative, while condensed, covers more than 20 years while the search for life on Mars and on earth continued as if the Viking mission and its results had never been published, juried and proven. We document how that happened and why.

 

Fewer than a hundred years ago all of human science, all of mankind in fact believed what the scientists told them; that the galaxy around the earth, the Milky Way Galaxy, constituted the entirety of the universe.  The dimensions of that error are almost impossible to calculate. Recently astronomers with a small telescope in the clear air at the South Pole peeked at one tiny old section of the real universe and found 800 trillion suns that are 7 billion light years away from our Milky Way spiral galaxy, which is one of trillions.

 

In the 1950s – even before the first planetary mission - US and Russian scientists began to agitate for missions to Mars to prove or disprove the elaborate theory of godless creation that was called chemical evolution. Few among the biologists and physiologists in the 1950s believed that life could be manufactured by accident when a small set of molecules were inspired by lightening or some other energy under the perfect set of circumstances.

But Joshua Lederberg, Norman Horowitz, Harold Urey, Stanley Miller, Carl Sagan and their tight, enlightened circle were as absolutely certain as George Wald that all it would take is trillions of chances over billions of years for the first microbe to accidentally come to life in a flash of lightening amid a brew of the right molecules. For those who did not believe in a single act of creation the evidence for chemical evolution was perfectly clear because the earth is populated with living organisms and has been for more than 3.7 million years. How else could they get here?

 

In the 1950s the chemical evolution theories of the Russian/Communist Aleksandr Oparin (in 1924), and the Englishman/Socialist John Haldane (in 1929) were reinforced by the experiments of Stanley Miller. Oparin and Haldane assumed that the early earth’s atmosphere was devoid of oxygen and the first life forms could somehow turn basic chemical gasses into materials related to amino acids which are the building blocks of DNA - life as we know it. That started Urey, Lederberg, Horowitz, Vishniac, and Sagan – to preach the possibility that life also began on Mars or Venus through a similar sequence of chemical evolutionary accidents. Although they had no idea what life is and no evidence of life beyond earth, the exobiologists, as they called themselves, were able to derail billions of dollars from the US and Russian government budgets for their agenda to learn how to learn how to look for microbial life on Mars and Venus.

 

That act of faith was strong enough to propel the US and Russians on their course to Mars and the planets as surely as faith in the Apostles’ Credo was able to propel Europe’s peasant crusaders to liberate the Holy Land. But in the years between 1960 and today the theory that life began on Earth through chemical evolution has endured some very persuasive criticism. The earth as we know it may be too young to accommodate the chemical evolutionary clock. Many now believe the early earth atmosphere was different than the one the chemical evolution doctrine suggested.

 

There is no question that the exobiologists were missing one third of the early tree of life. They had no idea that a separate family of microbes not only exited but could flourish under intense pressure, extreme temperatures, freezing cold or beyond the inspiration of any sunlight.

 

They were certain that organic molecules traveled the galaxy aboard meteors and comets. They were certain that Mars must be covered with organic debris left behind and somehow preserved from billions of years of meteor bombardment, as was the case on earth. But they were not ready to accept the possibility that a few of those organic molecule passengers on the cosmic rocks and ice balls were actually living microbes.

 

These newer discoveries suggest that chemical evolution could have taken place some place other than our Earth. And if life did not begin on Earth through chemical evolution, then we have a real Meshuggeneh.

 

In the beginning the exobiologists were branded Lowellians as if they were as wrong as Lowell about the possibility of intelligent life building canals on Mars. The missions to Mars proved both sides wrong and the world benefited. Lowell’s idea of a populated planet laced with canals was disproven as conclusively as were Norman Horowitz and Bruce Murray who were equally certain Mars had to be dead because it had never enjoyed the splash of an ocean, never felt an atmospheric breeze nor shuddered before a massive geological event.

 

NASA, the exobiologists and a generation of their scientist acolytes who believed in the doctrine of chemical evolution have demonized Gilbert Levin, our collaborator and technical editor. He is the engineer who carried none of the exobiologists’ baggage and cared less about chemical evolution. Levin the engineer built a machine that matched a purpose based upon the information provided to him. It worked exactly on Mars the way it had in the sewers of California. It was not his fault the rest of the mission was so poorly designed. It was not his fault that the entire Viking life search mission was contorted to pivot on Klaus Biemann’s GCMS that was neither strong enough to identify a gram of living microbes nor tuned enough to distinguish between peroxides in the soil, perchlorates in the soil or cleaning solvents tragically left inside his ovens through inadequate sterilization.

 

Each time NASA rewrites its history it does so as favorably as possible in the light of a hundred new discoveries that inevitably demonstrate how NASA was winging it at almost every step. A diligent reading of this book shows that NASA was spending money like a grifter who thinks he knows the outcome of the race when it really had no idea even which horses were in the field.

 

The latest iteration of the NASA cannon, written by NASA chief historian Steven Dick and published in 2004 suggests it could be possible Levin was correct all along.

 

“The case for life on Mars perked up,” Dick writes, “with a prominent article in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which argued that the Viking GCMS would have been unable to detect some of the most likely organic compounds delivered to the Martian surface by meteorites.”

 

Then Dick offers this official NASA historian insight. “In retrospect,” he says, “some have argued that the GCMS was too insensitive to detect organic mater in amounts found in the number of cells suggested by Levin’s interpretation of the LR (Gulliver) data.”

 

He says, “It had been assumed in the instrument’s design that if cells (microbes) were able to grow, higher levels of organics must be present all around them.”

Dr. Dick casts off this incredibly wrong assumption in the design of the key Viking instrument as if it doesn’t matter or didn’t matter. Yet the result of this incorrect assumption leads to an inadequate design that results in the dismissal of the results reported by Gulliver.

 

Dick continues, “Further discoveries of subsurface water ice by Mars Odyssey in February and March 2002 have continued to reveal, much like the observations of Mariner 4, that Mars is a sufficiently complex place to repeatedly overturn past scientific certainties. Levin has been vindicated on a number of points.”

 

Today we know that there is enough water on Mars that some of it is running down the sides of canyons. Curiosity has confirmed what Levin reported in 1976, that Martian soil contains at least 2% water, enough to sustain microbial life in several earthly habitats. NASA’s search for life on Mars is a long story that is probably on the threshold of a happy ending.

 

 

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The 5th Mexican School of Astrobiology

Posted by Tardigrelda on June 24, 2019 at 1:00pm 0 Comments

I am really glad to invite everyone to the next Mexican School of Astrobiology (aka EMA) which is this August.

¡Anímate a participar en la 5ta Escuela Mexicana de…

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A consortium of representatives of European Research Organisations has taken the initiative to create a virtual institute named the “European Astrobiology Institute” (EAI) with the ambition of enabli…

Posted by Wolf D. Geppert on February 24, 2019 at 1:33am 0 Comments

A consortium of representatives of European Research Organisations has taken the initiative to create a virtual institute named the “European Astrobiology Institute” (EAI) with the ambition of enabling Europe to emerge as a key player in Astrobiology and to…

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Started by Gina Riggio in SAGANet Discussions. Last reply by JohnCDraper yesterday. 122 Replies

If you are trying to ask a question live during Ask an Astrobiologist, please do so in the main chatroom at the bottom of the screen! You can also ask on twitter…Continue

Have we been looking in the wrong time-frame? Requesting feedback on a recent paper.

Started by Christopher J Reiss in The Cutting-Edge of Astrobiology Apr 3. 0 Replies

Let me first say Hi to everyone as a new member here!   I hope you are all safe, sound, and not too stir-crazy during this Pandemic.I recently stumbled upon a notion for SETI which seems so simple I…Continue

Interactive Online Astrobiology for 10-12 yr olds

Started by Julia Brodsky in Education and Public Outreach Mar 9. 0 Replies

If your 10-12 yr old child is interested in space science, I would like to invite them to our courses. I am a former science teacher,  mom of three, and a former NASA astronaut instructor. I also…Continue

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zahra cell

Started by adam nurjaman in Education and Public Outreach Mar 7. 0 Replies

Hallo apa kabar ? semoga selalu baik2 saja zahra cell adalah blog yang…Continue

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