| In the late 1970s, two Viking robots sailed to Mars, pillaged the soil and burnt any traces of life they found.
That was never the plan, of course. When NASA first landed the twin spacecraft named Viking 1 and Viking 2 on the surface of
By Brandon Specktor
Mars 40 years ago, scientists were ecstatic to finally start studying Martian soil for signs of organic (carbon-based) molecules that could prove the Red Planet was hospitable for life. It should’ve been a slam-dunk mission. The pockmarked face of Mars was constantly being pelted with tiny, carbon-rich meteorites, after all — detecting signs of that carbon was thought to have been a sure thing.