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 16, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Measuring the Natural Illumination in the Night Sky
MAY 16, 2021
Measuring the Natural Illumination in the Night Sky
It may get dark at night, but there's still light in the sky in even the darkest places. This low glow comes from natura ...
JUN 12, 2021
Cancer
Using astronomy to image cancer tumors
JUN 12, 2021
Using astronomy to image cancer tumors
In an interdisciplinary breakthrough, a recent study published in Science describes the development of a new platform, d ...
JUN 24, 2021
Space & Astronomy
European Space Agency to Launch Satellite Made from Plywood
JUN 24, 2021
European Space Agency to Launch Satellite Made from Plywood
Modern spacecraft are typically made out of carbon fiber composites. Now, however, the European Space Agency has announc ...
JUN 30, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Boom! It's Asteroid Day
JUN 30, 2021
Boom! It's Asteroid Day
In this NASA image from Bill Ingalls, a meteor can be seen in the sky, one far less destructive than the asteroid that c ...
JUL 09, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Cluster of Free-Floating Planets Captured by Kepler Telescope
JUL 09, 2021
Cluster of Free-Floating Planets Captured by Kepler Telescope
The Kepler Space Telescope has captured evidence of mysterious free-floating planets, or planets that are alone in deep ...
JUL 14, 2021
Earth & The Environment
High-Tide Flooding is Cause for Concern in the US
JUL 14, 2021
High-Tide Flooding is Cause for Concern in the US
High-tide flooding (HTF) is a phenomenon that typically occurs in coastal regions during the highest astronomical tides ...
Loading Comments...