Planetary Exploration: What Mariner Really Saw

Man's age-old dream of extraterrestrial life was stimulated earlier this summer by preliminary interpretations of data sent back from Mars by the twin Mariner probes. Hurriedly examining the readings from his infrared spectrometer on board Mariner 7, Chemist George C. Pimental had dramatically announced that the Martian atmosphere probably contained traces of ammonia and methane, two gases produced on earth by bacterial decay. The implication was clear: there might well be micro-organisms on Mars.

Last week, after further study of the Mariner data, Pimental reported that his ephemeral clue to the existence of Martian life had proved to be false....

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!