Life on Mars? NASA may have killed it.

NASA probes didn’t come in peace when they landed on Mars 30 years ago, according to a scientist at the American Astronomical Society (AAS). In a paper presented yesterday at the AAS meeting in Seattle, he theorizes that two NASA probes to the Red Planet in 1976 stumbled upon alien microbes, but didn’t recognize them ...

605018_Mars5.jpeg
605018_Mars5.jpeg

NASA probes didn't come in peace when they landed on Mars 30 years ago, according to a scientist at the American Astronomical Society (AAS). In a paper presented yesterday at the AAS meeting in Seattle, he theorizes that two NASA probes to the Red Planet in 1976 stumbled upon alien microbes, but didn't recognize them and may have even destroyed them looking for other signs of life.

Apparently (and this isn't so surprising), we've only been looking for Earth-like life on our neighboring planets. That's led members of a National Research Council group nicknamed the "weird life" committee to call for a wider net when making interstellar visits.

The group worries that scientists may be too Earth-centric when looking for extraterrestrial life. The problem for scientists is that "you only find what you're looking for," said Penn State University geosciences professor Katherine Freeman, a reviewer of the NRC work.

NASA probes didn’t come in peace when they landed on Mars 30 years ago, according to a scientist at the American Astronomical Society (AAS). In a paper presented yesterday at the AAS meeting in Seattle, he theorizes that two NASA probes to the Red Planet in 1976 stumbled upon alien microbes, but didn’t recognize them and may have even destroyed them looking for other signs of life.

Apparently (and this isn’t so surprising), we’ve only been looking for Earth-like life on our neighboring planets. That’s led members of a National Research Council group nicknamed the “weird life” committee to call for a wider net when making interstellar visits.


The group worries that scientists may be too Earth-centric when looking for extraterrestrial life. The problem for scientists is that “you only find what you’re looking for,” said Penn State University geosciences professor Katherine Freeman, a reviewer of the NRC work.

Perhaps we’ll be a little friendlier next time.

Carolyn O'Hara is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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