He was the prime researcher for the Viking labeled release experiment, the only one of the Viking instruments that gave positive results, albeit initially puzzling and ambiguous ones. NASA took the stance that the majority of instruments, which showed no evidence of life, overruled the rebel that did, and the Viking effort to detect life on Mars was officially deemed to have been unsucessful.
But Levin, now a scientist at Spherix, always believed that his labeled release experiment had indeed found Martian life which was so scant that the other instruments couldn’t see it. He spent the past quarter century working to understand the Viking data and became only more convinced that if read properly, it told the story of the greatest scientific discovery in history. He then proceeded to design a new instrument that would confirm his interpretation, if he could only get it on the Martian surface.
NASA and ESA decided to launch two Mars Exploration Rovers and the Mars Express carrying Beagle 2 without Levin’s instrument.
Levin is sanguine, hopeful his new device will eventually get to Mars and settle the question of its secrets once and for all. In the meantime, he doesn’t give the Beagle 2 GCMS unit much of a chance to duplicate what he claims to have discovered. “Strangely, despite its billing, Beagle 2 carries no life detection experiment!” he told BBC. “Neither its GCMS (organic detector) which is claimed to be more sensitive than Viking’s, nor its isotopic analysis instrument can provide evidence for living organisms.”