The Gilbert V. Levin papers, 1950-2009, represent the professional scientific career of Gilbert V. Levin, including his corporate desk files, correspondence and lectures, as well as drafts of scientific papers, laboratory notes and data for decades of research and development, and a career of proposals and contracts with NASA’s Mars mission programs. Levin’s papers indicate his involvement in the scientific community, from published articles, participation in conferences and the pursuit of patents, to correspondence with colleagues and students about his work. One significant series reveals the development of instrumentation launched on the Viking Mission to Mars in the summer of 1976.
Some acronyms it may be helpful to know in this collection include:
ALIF: “Analysis: Life or Inorganic Forms?” This is the title of a 1995 proposal and paper submitted to NASA by Gilbert V. Levin to investigate the reactive agent detected during the Viking mission in 1976.
AMML: Automated Microbial Metabolism Laboratory, a NASA-sponsored instrument that was designed to test soil samples for indications of life.
LR: Labeled Release experiment, which tested for microbial life on Mars using soil samples.
MRM: Microbial Radio Metabolism instrument, for the rapid detection of pathogenic microorganisms, designed to combat bacterial infection.
MOx: The Mars Oxidant Experiment was an instrument designed to characterize the reactive nature of the Martian soil and atmosphere.
SPIE: Society of Photographic Instrumentation Engineers, now called SPIE, a professional society for optics and photonics technology. Gilbert V. Levin spoke at SPIE conferences and published papers about microbial life on Mars and the Labeled Release experiment.
TEGA: Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyzer, used to analyze Martian ice and soil samples.
VM1: A solution of formate, glycine, D-alanine, L-alanine, D-lactate, L-lactate, and glycolate, each uniformly labeled with radioactive Carbon-14. This solution was carried by the Viking probes to Mars, in order to test soil for microbial activity, which would be an indication of living organisms on Mars.
The Sheridan Libraries’ Special Collections department acquired the Gilbert Levin papers in 2006. The collection comprises approximately 60 cubic feet and principally focuses on Levin’s work developing experiments for the Viking probe, experimental work in sewage treatment, the pursuit of several patents, and the work of Spherix Corporation. Levin's papers also include several works and pieces of research conducted by his colleagues in collaborative projects, such as Dr. Patricia Ann Straat of the Viking Mission.