NASA spacecraft orbiting Mars in the 1960s and 1970s returned images of a cratered Mars with no signs of Lowell’s canals or life of any kind. However, Martian life as well as Martian civilization found a new champion in Carl Sagan, a planetary astronomer and popularizer of science. Sagan and Iosif Shkovskii’s book, Intelligent Life in the Universe (1966), argued for the existence of a long-dead Martian civilization and proposed a rationale and program for the search for intelligent, civilized life in the universe. Sagan scoffed at Lowell’s Martian canals, yet Sagan’s claims that civilized life was abundant in the universe initially gained few supporters at NASA or in the scientific community. Like Lowell, Sagan sought a popular following by arguing repeatedly and eloquently that the discovery of intelligent extraterrestrial life was in our grasp.
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