Terrestrial microorganism can live on Mars for millions of years: there can still be life on the planet
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The most stable bacteria on Earth could live on the Red Planet for 280 million years. So could potential Martian microbes.
Scientists have found that one of the most resilient bacteria on our planet, which can survive the strongest radiation, could survive on Mars in complete inactivity. Thus, the chances that microbes still live on Mars are significantly increased, writes Space.
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A bacterium called Deinococcus radiodurans (also known as the Conan Bacteria) can survive in the most extreme conditions that no living organism could endure. A new study has shown that this bacterium could live on Mars in a state of suspended animation for 280 million years. If such bacteria exist on the Red Planet and are at a depth of up to 10 meters, then they have the same chances. Therefore, perhaps scientists will be able to detect microbial life there.
Scientists from the Military Medical University, Maryland, USA, led by Michael Daly, conducted a study of several types of microorganisms that are extremophiles (these creatures can survive where others immediately die). They wanted to find out how long such bacteria could survive on Mars.
During the study, microbes were subjected to ultra-low temperatures, as well as very strong radiation. But the bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans turned out to be the winner in this competition for survival. For example, scientists have found that this microbe can absorb 28,000 times more radiation than humans.
According to scientists, for 280 million years the climate on Mars has already been the same, like now. But before that, there were conditions for the existence of life, and Martian microbes could find a way to reproduce under the surface.
“Of course, microbes most likely could not have been in suspended animation on Mars for about 2-2.5 billion years since water disappeared on the planet. But they most likely could find a way to develop in the bowels of the planet due to the fact that the crust of Mars was constantly hit by asteroids and meteorites, which led to the necessary changes in the crust,” says Daly.
Therefore, scientists believe that it is still possible to detect microbial life on Mars, the main thing is to look for it at great depths. For example, the Rosalind Franklin rover of the European Space Agency (ESA) can do this. As Focus already wrote, this rover was supposed to go to the Red Planet in September of this year. But ESA stopped working with Russia on this project due to its invasion of Ukraine.
On the other hand, the Perseverance rover could theoretically detect Martian microbes as well, although it sampled birch soil at shallow depths. Scientists will be able to find out whether there are living bacteria there only in 10 years, when these samples arrive on Earth. As Focus already wrote, this rover continues to actively replenish its stock with collected rock samples on Mars.