The Viking Biological Investigation: Preliminary Results

  title={The Viking Biological Investigation: Preliminary Results},
  author={Harold P. Klein and Norman H. Horowitz and Gilbert V. Levin and Vance I. Oyama and Joshua Lederberg and Alexander Rich and Jerry S. Hubbard and George L. Hobby and Patricia Ann Straat and Bonnie J. Berdahl and Glenn C. Carle and Frederick S. Brown and Richard D. Johnson},
  pages={105 - 99}
Three different types of biological experiments on samples of martian surface material ("soil") were conducted inside the Viking lander. In the carbon assimilation or pyrolytic release experiment, 14CO2 and 14CO were exposed to soil in the presence of light. A small amount of gas was found to be converted into organic material. Heat treatment of a duplicate sample prevented such conversion. In the gas exchange experiment, soil was first humidified (exposed to water vapor) for 6 sols and then… 

The Viking Gas Exchange Experiment results from Chryse and Utopia surface samples

Immediate gas changes occurred when untreated Martian surface samples were humidified and/or wet by an aqueous nutrient medium in the Viking lander gas exchange experiment. The evolutions of N2, CO2,

Chemical model for Viking biology experiments: implications for the composition of the martian regolith

A chemical model is proposed for Mars Viking biology experiments in which the reactants are an inorganic nitrate salt, which has been partly photolysed by ultraviolet light, and a sparingly soluble metal carbonate such as calcite, indicating that nitrates are present in the martian regolith as well as calcITE (or some other carbonate with similar solubility).

A coupled soil-atmosphere model of H2O2 on Mars.

A coupled soil/atmosphere transport model for H2O2 on Mars found that the atmospheric concentration is only weakly coupled with soil loss processes, and it was found that organic compounds, protected from an oxidizing environment, may still exist.

Model of the fine-grain component of martian soil based on Viking lander data

The value of the sorbtional specific surface of the martian soil (from CO2 evolution in GEX (gas exchange experiments) of Viking craft) is more than an order of magnitude greater than the value of

Carbonate formation in Marslike environments

Carbonate growth was examined within rock powders subjected to Marslike environmental simulations. Rates of growth under experimental conditions were 1012–1013 molecules cm−3 s−1 with or without an

Organics on Mars

Abstract Organics are expected to exist on Mars based on meteorite infall, in situ production, and any possible biological sources. Yet they have not been detected on the martian surface; are they

Organics on Mars?

A primary focus of the upcoming Mars Science Laboratory will be the detection and identification of organic molecules by means of thermal volatilization, followed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry--as was done on Viking.

Viking on Mars: The carbon assimilation experiments

A fixation of atmospheric carbon, presumably into organic form, occurs in Martian surface material under conditions approximating the actual Martian ones. The reaction showed the following



Measurement of CO(2) Assimilation in Soils: an Experiment for the Biological Exploration of Mars.

The detection of significant levels of C in the trapped organic fraction appears to be an unambiguous indication of biological activity.

Photocatalytic Production of Organic Compounds from CO and H(2)O in a Simulated Martian Atmosphere.

It is suggested that organic synthesis results from adsorption of CO and H(2)O on surfaces, with excitation of one or both molecules occurring at wavelengths longer than those absorbed by the free gases.

Search for Organic and Volatile Inorganic Compounds in Two Surface Samples from the Chryse Planitia Region of Mars

Two surface samples collected from the Chryse Planitia region of Mars were heated to temperatures up to 500�C, and the volatiles that they evolved were analyzed with a gas chromatograph-mass

Microbiology of the dry valleys of antarctica.

The kinds, numbers, and distribution of soil microorganisms in the valleys are investigated in order to gain insight into the practical problems of searching for life in an extreme environment and as they apply to martian exploration.

Integration of experiments for the detection of biological activity in extraterrestrial exploration.

An experimental design which could detect growth, catabolic and anabolic activity on a single sample is described.


  • G. Levin
  • Environmental Science
    Advances in applied microbiology
  • 1963


The solubility of carbon dioxide, krypton, and xenon has been measured at 1 Atm and at temperatures of 25, 30, 37, and 45° in distilled water and aqueous solution.