Earthly Life Could Survive on Mars, New Studies Suggest

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Two new independent studies show that we can’t discount the possibility that Earthly life can survive on the Red Planet

The first work was published in Frontiers in Microbiology. Researchers working on the study found that Earth life forms could temporarily survive on Mars. Fungi and Bacteria were sent to the stratosphere in a balloon, where they were kept in Martian atmosphere conditions and were exposed to UV radiation from the Sun.

The second study, published in Nature Communications Earth and Environment, is equally exciting, as the researchers grew microbes on soils sourced from a Martian meteorite. The team used meteorite Northwest Africa (NWA) 7034, a piece of Mars about 4.5 billion years old. A few grams of it were crushed and exposed to chemolithotrophs, rock-eating microorganisms. The question they were trying to answer was if such organisms existed on Mars, what traces might they have left behind?

The team found that these chemolithotrophs constructed mineral capsules made of iron, manganese, and aluminum phosphates. These were unique to the old Martian soil, and unlike what is done by these microbes on Earth – or even in lab experiments on non-martian carbon-rich meteorites. It could be possible in the future to look for these mineral structures directly on Mars.


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