Life on Mars?

by Darren K. Carlson

Over a third of Americans say they believe life in some form exists on the red planet

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Scientists at the Johnson Space Center report finding a magnetic mineral in a meteorite that originated from the planet Mars. The scientists claim that the presence of this material, which is similar to crystals formed on Earth by bacteria, points to the presence of ancient life on Mars. In a Gallup poll from 1999, the public expressed some cynicism about the possible presence of life on Mars, but was confident that life of some form did indeed exist in the universe.

A little over a third of Americans (35%) said they believed life existed on Mars, while 59% did not think so. When asked about the possible presence of other life in the universe, 61% said they thought that other forms of life existed in the universe, and 33% did not. When asked about the specific form of extraterrestrial life, 41% of Americans said they thought there could be "people somewhat like ourselves living on other planets in the universe" while 54% did not think so.

Finally, in 1999, 43% of the American public favored setting aside money for a project that would attempt to land an astronaut on Mars, while 54% opposed such an idea. Americans felt roughly the same way about the idea in 1969, when Gallup first asked about such a program.

Survey Methods

The results below are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,061 and 1,018 adults 18 years and older, conducted July 13-14, and March 19-12, 1999, respectively. For results based on these samples, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

There has been much discussion about attempting to land an astronaut on the planet Mars. How would you feel about such an attempt -- would you favor or oppose the United States setting aside money for such a project?

 

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

99 Jul 13-14

43%

54

3

69 Jul 24-29

39%

53

8



Do you think there are people somewhat like ourselves living on other planets in the universe or not?

ASKED OF FORM A: N = 483; MARGIN OF SAMPLING ERROR = ± 5 PCT. PTS.

 


Yes

 

No

No
opinion

       
 

%

%

%

1999 Mar. 19-21**

41

54

5

       

1996 Sep. 3-5**

38

44

18

1990 Jun. 14-17

46

36

18

1989

41

48

11

1978

51

33

16

1973

46

38

16

       


** Based on half sample

Do you think there is life of some form on other planets in the universe or not?

ASKED OF FORM B: N = 535; MARGIN OF SAMPLING ERROR = ± 5 PCT. PTS.

 


Yes

 

No

No
opinion

       

1999 Mar. 19-21

61%

33

6

       

1996 Sep. 3-5

72%

19

9



What about the planet Mars -- do you think there is life of some form on Mars, or not?

 


Yes

 

No

No
opinion

       

1999 Mar. 19-21

35%

59

6



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