The Viking Missions: "We Are the Martians
Author: NASA Biologist
We have landed on the Red Planet. We have seen its entire surface through the Viking Orbiter in extraordinary detail, photographed its rock-strewn iron-oxide red desert with the Viking Lander, collected and analyzed Martian soil, detected its cold surface temperatures and atmospheric makeup, and with all this information, created a tome so prolific of its climate, topography, surface chemistry, geology, and atmosphere that new conclusions are still being extracted from the data.
However, we did not find a trace of life. Mars is self-sterilizing. It's surface is saturated with ultraviolet radiation, it's soil is extremely dry and oxidized, which expounds its lifelessness. But not definitely. The two Viking landers might have landed in two places that coincidentally didn't support life. We predict water exists in the form of subsoil
frost, or permafrost. There might still be a chance that life exists near the poles.
But whether life exists or not on Mars, we have accomplished a great task. We, as Ray Bradbury said, "have become the Martians now."
The age of Percival Lowell is over. Norman H. Horowitz, the chief of the Mariner and Viking bioscience teams, put it this way:
The failure to find life on Mars was a disappointment, but it was also a revelation. It now seems certain that the Earth is the only inhabited place in the solar system. We have come to the end of the dream. We are alone - we and the other species that share our planet with us. Let us hope that the Viking findings will make us realize the uniqueness of Earth and thereby increase our determination to preserve it.