Vikings would have missed life on Mars Nature

The Viking space missions to Mars in the 1970s sent back a mixed message about the red planet. The views were fabulous; but the nightlife was a little quiet. The two Viking lander craft touched down on the martian surface in 1976, scooped up handfuls of dust, and pronounced it devoid of the organic material that might signify the presence of microorganisms. But even if there had been several million bacteria-like cells in every gram of Martian soil, the Viking landers would not have detected them, Jeffrey Bada and his co-workers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, now claim.