Life on Mars

Life on MarsA new research suggests a possibility of life on Mars like the earth’s craters support life, there’s a possible chance that they might do so on Mars as well. Charles Cockell of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Physics and Astronomy writes in this month’s edition of the science journal Astrobiology that there were micro-organisms found living deep underneath a site in the U.S where an asteroid crashed some 35 millions years ago and similar craters on Mars would be great spots to look for aliens. He wrote, “The subsurface of craters on Mars might be a promising place to search for evidence of life. The deeply fractured areas around impact craters can provide a safe haven in which microbes can flourish for long periods of time”.

NASA and leading scientists agree with the theory which could impact future research. “The planetary science community recognizes that the deep subsurface promises to be a protected habitat for potential Martian life,” NASA spokesman Dwayne C. Brown told Cockell and his team drilled 2km under the crater’s surface in the Chesapeake Bay Area. The samples showed the microbes unevenly spread implying the environment is still settling and heat from the impact of collision killed everything at the surface but fractures on rocks deep below helped water and nutrients to flow in and support life. Dr. Joel Levine, a retired NASA scientist from the Langley Research Center with 41 years of federal service says, “Due to its very thin atmosphere and lack of a planetary dipole magnetic field, the surface of Mars is consistently bombarded by solar ultraviolet radiation and solar-emitted particulate radiation, e.g., the solar wind, making the surface of Mars an inhospitable site for living systems. However, the sub-surface of Mars, even a few inches below the surface, may be protected from solar ultraviolet and particulate radiation and life may find a hospitable zone there. Asteroid and meteor impacts provide a ‘window’ to the near-surface, the subsurface of Mars — and may provide a unique opportunity to search for life there”.

James Wray, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech and scientific team member for an upcoming NASA mission to Mars sounds a note of caution saying that to create a long-term wet environment would require a large impact which only happens every few million years or even ten of millions of years apart on Mars. Another difficulty is that it would be extremely hard to drill over a mile without astronauts on the surface. Deeper exploration of the Martian surface will start in August with the arrival of NASA’s curiosity rover on Mars. “The full suite of instruments on Curiosity is designed to assess whether Mars once could have had conditions to support life. Certainly, finding evidence of any kind on this subject would be incredibly exciting”, Brown told


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