Mars The Living Planet is two book in one. The first part tells the story of how the planet Mars became looked upon as a world that might harbor life throughout history. Also told is how the sciences of microbiology and astronomy gradually merged to become the new science of astrobiology.
The second part of the book tells the the true-life story of how two American scientists, Gilbert V. Levin and Patricia Ann Straat who claim to be first astrobiologists to find life on another planet - Mars. They accomplished this feat by using an ultra sensitive instrument they built called the Labeled Release experiment, which could detect as few as 10 living cells in a gram of soil. Levin and Straat had their instrument flown to Mars on NASA's twin Viking Lander spacecraft in 1976. After nine Martian soil tests, Levin felt sure he had found life on Mars. However, what happens next is an incredible story of perseverance as Levin and Straat would both be shunned by the Mars Exploration division at NASA. The story is told using actual documents and letters between NASA and Levin. One thing becomes clear - NASA does accept Levin's conclusions and ignores or misinterprets his data at almost every turn.
A stunning tale of what it was like behind the scenes to be a part of the NASA Viking biology team - the very first mission ever to look for life on another planet.