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Mars may be a lot more toxic than we thought

Posted on Friday, 7 July, 2017 | Comment icon 8 comments

The surface of Mars may be toxic to life. Image Credit: NASA
New research has shown that the Martian soil is quite an inhospitable environment for microbial life.
While the evidence suggesting that life may have once existed on Mars in its distant past remains promising, the same can't be said for the chances of finding microbes there today.

In a recent study, scientists exploring the effects of perchlorates on the Red Planet discovered that these common chemicals, which can be found all over Mars, might actually render the planet significantly more toxic to life than had been previously realized.

In a series of experiments, the researchers exposed Earth bacteria to the same levels of perchlorates and ultraviolet rays that anything attempting to survive on the surface of Mars would encounter.
The results indicated that the bacteria were wiped out twice as quickly with the perchlorates present.

To make things worse, adding other components of the Martian soil, such as iron oxide and hydrogen peroxide, resulted in the bacteria dying off up to 11 times faster than with the perchlorates alone.

"These data show that the combined effects of at least three components of the Martian surface, activated by surface photochemistry, render the present-day surface more uninhabitable than previously thought," the researchers wrote.

On the plus side, at least the risk of contaminating Mars with bacteria from Earth is also much lower.

Source: Yahoo! News | Comments (8)

Tags: Mars

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Glockornothing on 8 July, 2017, 2:55
I bet this was a result of their last leader pulling out of their version of the Paris climate accord, or their version of the Russians were at fault. 
Comment icon #2 Posted by Tom the Photon on 8 July, 2017, 6:13
Read the original article here: Actually - don't bother.  Scroll down to Figure 1 to see the irrelevance of this 'research'.  With UV & perchlorates all the bacteria are destroyed in under 30 seconds.  Impressive?  With UV and no perchlorates they're all gone in... 60 s.  Okay, it's a logarithmic scale, so there's a probability a few will linger on another ten, twenty seconds, but that's hardly long enough to sustain life. And they only tested ONE species of bacteria.  A bacteria, please note, that is incredibly well adapted to survive on ... [More]
Comment icon #3 Posted by EBE Hybrid on 8 July, 2017, 11:13
Perchlorates, oxides and hydrogen peroxide. I'm surprised that the surface of the planet hasn't detonated, that's a potentially explosive mixture they've got there!
Comment icon #4 Posted by Jon the frog on 8 July, 2017, 22:58
Life on Mars would have evolve a resistance to that... It's a little bit like : the Saharan atmosphere is toxic to fish, it will be hard to find aquatic life in the Saharan desert...but you turn a corner and you spot a snake.
Comment icon #5 Posted by DanL on 9 July, 2017, 2:26
It takes more oxygen than is free in the martian atmosphere to sustain enough fire to have and explosion but bringing that dirt into an Earth type atmosphere might be interesting. Life seems to find a way though so I wouldn't write it off as possible yet. There is life in the water around the black smokers in the bottom of the ocean. If life can find a way to exist in a freaking hot dark pressure cooker type of environment it should be able to survive nearly anything. 
Comment icon #6 Posted by Hammerclaw on 9 July, 2017, 5:17
Mars makes the driest, most desolate and undesirable real-estate on Earth look like a veritable paradise. If no one wants to live there, why would anyone want to live on Mars?
Comment icon #7 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 10 July, 2017, 18:12
The two situations are not necessarily comparable. Earth is a planet that is ideally suited to life and has been for a huge amount of time. This has lead to highly complex life on Earth with an immense variety. Given this it is hardly surprising that life has evolved to survive in the less hospitable corners of the planet. That is a totally different situation from a planet that is almost entirely hostile to life and that had a very small window (if any) in time where it was hospitable. This would make it less likely that life would evolve the great variety and complexity that we see on Earth ... [More]
Comment icon #8 Posted by kobolds on 12 July, 2017, 3:59
if life ever exists in mars , you should be able to find remains of Petrified wood, Petrified Leaf, Coprolite, etc ...  after so many years , if you can't find anything mean there are no life ever exist in mars before or now.  

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