The act would also require NASA to develop a plan by the end of to test a new type of propulsion — nuclear thermal propulsion — in flight in This technology has the potential to cut travel times across the solar system, which is relevant for NASA's hopes to land humans on Mars in or Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter howellspace.
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Subscribe to our sister title "All About Space" Magazine for the latest amazing news from the final frontier! Have a news tip, correction or comment? On July 30, , the LR returned its initial results from Mars. Amazingly, they were positive.
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As the experiment progressed, a total of four positive results, supported by five varied controls, streamed down from the twin Viking spacecraft landed some 4, miles apart. The data curves signaled the detection of microbial respiration on the Red Planet. The curves from Mars were similar to those produced by LR tests of soils on Earth. It seemed we had answered that ultimate question. When the Viking Molecular Analysis Experiment failed to detect organic matter, the essence of life, however, NASA concluded that the LR had found a substance mimicking life, but not life.
Instead the agency launched a series of missions to Mars to determine whether there was ever a habitat suitable for life and, if so, eventually to bring samples to Earth for biological examination.
NASA maintains the search for alien life among its highest priorities. Our nation has now committed to sending astronauts to Mars.
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Any life there might threaten them, and us upon their return. Thus, the issue of life on Mars is now front and center. Life on Mars seemed a long shot.
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On the other hand, it would take a near miracle for Mars to be sterile. A tiny fraction of this material eventually lands on the other planet, perhaps infecting it with microbiological hitch-hikers. That some Earth microbial species could survive the Martian environment has been demonstrated in many laboratories.
There are even reports of the survival of microorganisms exposed to naked space outside the International Space Station ISS. He allowed microbes to contaminate a hay-infusion broth, after which bubbles of their expired gas appeared.
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