Oyama, Vance I. (1922–1998)

Vance Oyama was an American biochemist who served as the chief of NASA's Exobiology Branch at the Ames Research Center. Oyama was a veteran of life detection experiments on Apollo lunar samples and father of the Viking gas exchange experiment (GEX). Along with Wolf Vishniac and Harold Klein, Oyama was among the most optimistic of the scientists working on the Viking biology experiments about the prospects of detecting Martian life. Ironically, his experiment gave the least biologically favorable result of the three onboard the spacecraft and Oyama subsequently became convinced that the activity registered in the soil samples could best be explained chemically (see Oyama's hypothesis, about the active nature of the Martian soil).


Vance Oyama (l) and Leonard P. Zill (r)
Vance Oyama (left) and Leonard P. Zill