Not so! A bit of sleuthing by a young post-doc named Jordan Bimm turned up old films from the 1950s depicting what were called even then 'Mars Jars.' Their inventor, it turns out, was a government scientist named Dr. Hubertus Strughold. Strughold worked for the US Air Force on issues related to biology and high altitude or space conditions, and he his work on Mars was sort of a side line. But he eventually did enough to publish the first scientific paper using the word 'astrobiology' and also organize the world's first astrobiology conference.
What, exactly, did Strughold do?
Dr. Bimm studies the Cold Warriors who researched survival in the harsh environment of space. It’s what led him to the Mars Jars: He was diving into Dr. Strughold’s work on astronaut physiology and aviation medicine in the U.S. — work he had started in Nazi Germany for the Luftwaffe, and which was tangled up in inhumane experiments.
Dr. Strughold didn’t do these experiments himself, and he wasn’t a member of the Nazi party. But on his watch, researchers locked prisoners at the Dachau concentration camp in low-pressure chambers, to show what might happen to fliers at high altitude, and dressed them in fighter-pilot uniforms only to submerge them in freezing water.
“You don’t get to hold that job for 10 years unless you are 100 percent in lock step with the leadership,” Dr. Bimm said.
So Strughold was part of an organization that did awful experiments on concentration camp inmates, but there is no evidence that he participated in them. He did not join the Nazi Party but as Bimm says he would not have lasted in that job if he had not been considered politically reliable.
Scoles tosses around vague talk about "reassessing" the use of Strughold's research, but I find it hard to get upset about this. The Space Medicine Institute used to give out a Strughold Award, and when Strughold's Nazi past first came to light in 2013 they retired the award. Perfectly appropriate. But so far as I can see from this evidence Strughold was not Mengele, and whatever he did in Germany he developed Mars Jars in the US, torturing nobody but lichens and bacteria. I see no reason to stop messing with Mars Jars just because of their inventor's past.
Incidentally what these experiments show is that most of the time, earth life dies in Martian conditions, but sometimes lichens endure, and sometimes bacteria mutate and adapt.