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Mars could have supported life underground


Posted on Wednesday, 26 September, 2018 | Comment icon 6 comments

The subsurface of Mars may have once teemed with life. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
A new study has revealed that ancient Mars had the right conditions to support subterranean microbes.
When we think about the potential for life on Mars, we tend to imagine organisms living on the surface, but now scientists led by graduate student Jesse Tarnas of Brown University have found evidence to support the notion that life on Mars may have once thrived, not on the ground, but underneath it.

Subterranean microbe communities here on Earth, which are known as subsurface lithotrophic microbial ecosystems (SliMEs), get their energy by peeling electrons off of molecules in the soil.

According to the research, molecular hydrogen, which serves as a plentiful source of fuel for these organisms, would have also existed in the Martian soil billions of years ago.

"We showed, based on basic physics and chemistry calculations, that the ancient Martian subsurface likely had enough dissolved hydrogen to power a global subsurface biosphere," said Tarnas.

"Conditions in this habitable zone would have been similar to places on Earth where underground life exists."

While the study does not prove that microbial life actually did once live in the Martian soil, it does add to the growing body of evidence suggesting that Mars could have supported life in the distant past.

Source: Phys.org | Comments (6)

Tags: Mars, Microbes

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Seti42 on 26 September, 2018, 9:56
(SliMEs). Cute. Is acronym writer a full time job, or does NASA hold contests among their STEM teams?
Comment icon #2 Posted by freetoroam on 26 September, 2018, 10:06
Could have ..... if this is no proof of this then how can it be added to "evidence". I do not think you have to be a scientist to speculate there could have been life on Mars, but i would have thought a researcher would have produced more than a 'could have', we can all do that.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Essan on 26 September, 2018, 10:12
Yes, anyone can speculate that there may have once been primitive life on Mars. This is further scientific evidence in support of that speculation  
Comment icon #4 Posted by kartikg on 26 September, 2018, 13:22
Mars is a good litmus test for life, so many conditions for life to happen were present on Mars in the past, if we don't find life there then it's reasonable to think that life might not exist elsewhere and it needs conditions exactly like earth.
Comment icon #5 Posted by DieChecker on 26 September, 2018, 16:57
Interesting. Perhaps once people are actually living there, they'll be able to go research on such things MUCH faster?
Comment icon #6 Posted by paperdyer on 26 September, 2018, 19:51
No you don't.  Anyone can speculate.  Only scientists get money to speculate further.  You & I don't


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