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A major assignment for interplanetary spacecraft:

The Search for Life on Mars

NASA artist concept of TPF Planet Finder Spacecraft
Searching outward for life in deep space
NASA artist concept

NASA Origins Program »
A major assignment for the Viking 1 and Viking 2 interplanetary spacecraft was searching Mars for life processes based on a carbon biochemistry. So, the question of life on Mars, very important at the beginning of the 20th century, remains open at the end of the century. Mars remains the most likely candidate for life in the Solar System outside of Earth.

Further searching will be required to resolve conflicting results offered by the Vikings. Only a positive, unambiguous result will be meaningful.

The inability of Viking to detect life may mean there was no life on Mars, or it may simply mean the experiments were designed incorrectly.

A continuing search. During the recent five decades, America, Russia, Europe and Japan have sent numerous spacecraft to scout the Red Planet – including NASA's widely-known Pathfinder lander of 1997. Many others will follow. Here's more information on past and future Mars probes:


Origins. NASA's Origins Program looks for answers to a pair of enduring human questions: NASA puts it this way:
Knowing "where we come from" means understanding how the great chain of events unleashed after the Big Bang culminated in us and in everything we observe today. It is the story of our cosmic roots, told in terms of all that precedes us: the origin and development of galaxies, stars, planets, and the chemical conditions necessary to support life.

Knowing our uniqueness – "whether we're alone" in the cosmos – depends on our search for life-sustaining planets and on our understanding of its glorious diversity here on Earth. Only by seeing the innumerable possibilities on our home planet can we be sure that we'll recognize life if and when we find it somewhere else.

Learn more:
Human Exploration of Mars:
There have been three stages of exploration so far
Sand dunes: Dust Storms: Air: Carbon Dioxide: Outflow Channels: Valley Networks: Rift Valley: Ice: Ice caps: Frost: Water: Artesian Water: Mars Weather: Mars Photo Galleries: Planet features: Canals: Rocks: Mountains: Dating and aging: Seasons:
Exploring Mars
Mars Probes
Probes of the Past
Probes of the Future
Mars Water
Mars Canals
Mars Air
Mars Rocks
Mars Seasons
Mars Mountains
Mars Rift Valley
Mars Moons
Mars Life Search
Mars Dust Storms
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Mars Resources
Mars Orbiter 2005
Mars Scout 2007
Rover Spirit 2003
Rover Opportunity 2003
Express 2003
Odyssey 2001
Polar Lander 1999
Climate Orbiter 1998
Deep Space 2 1999
Global Surveyor 1996
Pathfinder Lander 1996
Rover Sojourner 1996
Pathfinder Mission 1996
Viking-1 Lander 1975
Viking-2 Orbiter 1975
Viking-1 Lander 1975
Viking-1 Orbiter 1975
Mariner 9 Orbiter 1971
Mars 3 Lander 1971
Mariner 4 Flyby 1964
Viking Mission 1975
Mars Meteorites - JPL
2003 & Beyond - Goddard
2005 & Beyond - JPL
Mars Exploration - JPL
Plans to Explore Planets

Solar System - JPL
Welcome to the Planets - JPL
Planetary Photojournal - JPL
Mars - Athena - NASA Ames
Solar System Tour - BBC
Mars - New York Times
Windows...Universe - UMich
Mars - Apollo Society
Planetary Society
Mars Society
The Nine Planets
Planet Mars Company
Solar System - STO
Solar System Tour
Artist conception of Mars with water four billion years ago
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