Insights from Antarctica
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During the years since the Viking program, the GCMS data have come into question. Some investigators have demonstrated that the type of GCMS sent to Mars on Viking 1 and Viking 2 could not detect the low concentration of organic molecules in the soil of Antarctica even though more sensitive “wet” laboratory tests have detected such molecules and the Antarctic soil contains lifeforms. Other investigators have pointed out that it is not clear whether the Vikings obtained good samples for the instrument.
Mars landing missions of the near future will carefully study the chemistry of the Martian soil and these studies will include highly sensitive scans for organic compounds.