JUL 08, 2017 8:06 AM PDT

Mars' Environment is More Hostile Than Originally Thought

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

We’ve been sending rovers to Mars for years to find out whether or not the red planet has the means to support life, and soon, Mars 2020 rover will continue where older rover missions have left off.

Mars has a lot of unexplained secrets. Now new research suggests the probability of finding life there is low.

Image Credit: Pixabay

While we haven’t found traces of life on Mars yet, scientists are anxious about any opportunities to learn of the presence of extraterrestrial bacteria, or other more advanced life forms that we’ve never seen before.

It seems like it's possible on paper, but Scottish researchers recently published a study in the journal Scientific Reports that elaborates on how the Martian environment could be harsher for organic life than we originally realized, which has negative implications.

Related: What happened to Mars' atmosphere?

The study took a closer look at the presence of perchlorates known to exist on Mars and studied the effects ultraviolet radiation had on them. They found that the perchlorates underwent a chemical reaction when exposed to ultraviolet light that was detrimental to organic matter, namely a specific bacterial test subject known as Bacillus subtilis.

The presence of iron oxides and hydrogen peroxide on Mars' dry and lifeless surface may also exacerbate the cell destruction process in organic matter.

While the study did only focus on just one bacteria, it illustrates how potentially unforgiving the Martian environment could be towards organic life forms. On the other hand, since it only focused on one bacterial species, it was a narrow study that didn't look at the bigger picture and needs expansion.

“Life can survive very extreme environments,” says lead study author Jennifer Wadsworth “The bacterial model we tested wasn’t an extremophile so it’s not out of the question that hardier life forms would find a way to survive.”

Related: Here's what a trip to Mars would be like

Since Mars lacks an ozone layer, ultraviolet radiation easily reaches the surface of the planet. This means ground-based perchlorates are exposed to ultraviolet rays day in and day out.

That said, while the surface of Mars is potentially inhabitable for some species, the sub-surface could have an entirely different set of rules. Ultraviolet radiation can't reach the sub-surface as easily, so this could be the most likely hiding place for Martian life.

“Although the surface of Mars may be uninhabitable, there’s a whole potential subsurface habitat to be explored,” Wadsworth continued. “If that’s the case we may have to dig at least a few meters into the ground to ensure the levels of radiation would be relatively low. At those depths, it’s possible Martian life may survive.”

Any future human visitors that might find their way to Mars in coming years will be forced to live inside of habitation modules to protect them from from the Martian elements. Space suits may serve as mobile protection against said elements during missions where leaving the habitation module is required.

This will be challenge for mankind, but if history repeats itself, we'll find a way.

Source: Popular Science

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
MAY 11, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Hear What Astronauts Think About SpaceX's Upcoming Crewed Launch
MAY 11, 2020
Hear What Astronauts Think About SpaceX's Upcoming Crewed Launch
On Wednesday, May 27th, NASA will entrust commercial space company SpaceX with the coveted task of flying astronauts to ...
JUN 14, 2020
Space & Astronomy
SpaceX Launches First Rideshare Mission with Great Success
JUN 14, 2020
SpaceX Launches First Rideshare Mission with Great Success
If you’ve been following SpaceX, then you’d know that the commercial space company has been launching quite ...
JUL 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Should We Fly By Venus on the Way to Mars?
JUL 07, 2020
Should We Fly By Venus on the Way to Mars?
After landing on the Moon, heading to Mars became the next logical step for space exploration. Some suggest that flying ...
JUL 13, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Earth's Moon Had Magma Ocean for 200 Million Years
JUL 13, 2020
Earth's Moon Had Magma Ocean for 200 Million Years
The moon may have hosted an ocean of magma for 200 million years according to new findings- considerably longer than pre ...
AUG 18, 2020
Space & Astronomy
First Visitor from Another Solar System Remains Unknown
AUG 18, 2020
First Visitor from Another Solar System Remains Unknown
An object hurtling through our solar system known as 'Oumuamua' is our first visitor from another solar sys ...
SEP 13, 2020
Space & Astronomy
A Missing Piece of the Dark Matter Puzzle
SEP 13, 2020
A Missing Piece of the Dark Matter Puzzle
Most matter, and about a quarter of the mass-energy in the universe is thought to be made of dark matter, but we still d ...
Loading Comments...