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Re: Researcher Presents Case For Liquid Water On

From: Stig_Agermose@online.pol.dk
Date: Fri, 24 Jul 1998 01:27:36 +0200
Fwd Date: Thu, 23 Jul 1998 23:50:46 -0400
Subject: Re: Researcher Presents Case For Liquid Water On

URL: http://www.biospherics.com/pressrelease/pr072098.htm

The full published paper is at

http://www.biospherics.com/mars/spie2/spie98.htm

Links are preceded by asterisks.


Stig


*******


PRESS RELEASE
12051 Indian Creek Court
Beltsville, MD 20705


EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE
10:00 a.m., July 20, 1998, Pacific Standard Time

For additional information, contact
Dr. Gilbert V. Levin
Marriott Hotel and Marina
San Diego, California
Telephone: 619-234-1500

July 20, 1998


RESEARCHER PRESENTS CASE FOR LIQUID WATER ON MARS


Dr. Gilbert V. Levin, Mars Viking Experimenter, today reported
on his study that water exists on the red planet's surface in
sufficient amounts to sustain microbial life. His *findings
(link to full published paper - Stig) were presented to the
Annual Meeting of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation
Engineers (SPIE) in San Diego. Dr. Levin, President of
Biospherics in Beltsville, Maryland, shared authorship with his
son, Dr. Ron Levin, physicist at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory in
Boston. The importance of the study, Dr. Gilbert Levin said, is
that it clinches the case that his Viking LR experiment found
life on Mars in 1976, a conclusion that he announced in 1997.

In recent years, all arguments against the LR experiment had
been eliminated except the claim that there was no
life-requiring liquid water on the surface of the red planet.
Last February, in discussing Mars against the background of
startling new findings of life in hostile Earth environments,
Dr. Wesley Huntress, NASA's Associate Administrator for Space
Science, said: "We used to think that life was fragile, but
wherever liquid water and chemical energy are found, there is
life. There is no exception. Life may be a cosmic imperative."

Dr. Levin described a dynamic daily cycle on Mars in which the
extreme cold of the Martian atmosphere greatly restricts its
ability to hold water vapor. Thus, the scant water vapor on Mars
is forced down to the surface, where it is deposited in frozen
form. As the sun rises, the ice melts, but its evaporation is
restricted by the low vapor capacity of the overlying cold
atmosphere. Levin cited Pathfinder's results to show that the
atmosphere immediately above the surface warms considerably,
equaling a spring day on Earth, but, just a couple of feet above
the surface, temperatures are sub-freezing. The warmed surface
layer of air absorbs water vapor until saturated. No more water
can then evaporate from the surface, and the ice remaining there
melts into liquid water. As the sun mounts, the temperature of
the atmosphere above the surface warms sufficiently to permit
any remaining water and ice to evaporate. However, during this
daily cycle, the soil has been moistened with enough water to
sustain microorganisms.

Dr. Levin explained: "Based on Viking and Pathfinder data, and
consistent with the principles of thermodynamics of the triple
point of water, a model has been created for a diurnal water
cycle on Mars. The model predicts the presence of several tenths
of a percent to one percent water moisture in the topmost layer
of the surface material over large regions of Mars. Images taken
by the Viking Lander cameras show nightly deposits of surface
water frost, even snow, verifying the prediction of the model.
Terrestrial experiments in natural environments, including the
Death Valley sand dunes of California, demonstrated that the
amount of soil water moisture predicted by the model is
sufficient to sustain survival and growth of common soil
microorganisms." Levin states: "This model removes the final
constraint preventing acceptance of the biological
interpretation of the Viking LR Mars data as having detected
living microorganisms in the soil of Mars. It comes at a time
when a growing body of evidence from the Earth and space are
supporting the presence of life not only on Mars, but on many
celestial bodies." As a result, Levin pressed for early Mars
biology missions, none of which is currently planned by NASA, to
verify and study life forms, and for caution in current plans
for returning a Mars sample to Earth.

Under its motto, "Technologies for Information and Health,"
Biospherics' mission is to provide guidance and products to
improve the quality of life. In addition to its BioTechnology
unit, the Company offers telecommunications and database
management information, and proprietary environmental, food and
medical innovations.


Our Internet address is: http://www.biospherics.com.


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