Possible Surface Reactions on Mars: Implications for Viking Biology Results

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Science  29 Jul 1977:
Vol. 197, Issue 4302, pp. 455-457
DOI: 10.1126/science.197.4302.455


The results of two of the three biology experiments carried out on the Viking Mars landers have been simulated. The mixture of organic compounds labeled with carbon-14 used on Mars released carbon dioxide containing carbon-14 when reacted with a simulated martian surface and atmosphere exposed to ultraviolet light (labeled release experiment). Oxygen was released when metal peroxides or superoxides were treated with water (gas exchange experiment). The simulations suggest that the results of these two Viking experiments can be explained on the basis of reactions of the martian surface and atmosphere.