Oxygen on Mars could support primitive life
By T.K. Randall
October 24, 2018 · 3 comments
Is there water on Mars and if so, how much oxygen is in it ? Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Enough oxygen could exist within salty subsurface water on Mars to support oxygen-breathing microbes.
In a new study, planetary scientist Vlada Stamenkovic and colleagues identified several regions on Mars that could be home to liquid brines with notable quantities of dissolved oxygen.
While the Red Planet's atmosphere is comprised of only 0.145 percent oxygen, the scientists believe that it may be more concentrated within these liquids.
By calculating the likely absorption levels, they were able to determine that the brines on Mars could contain sufficient concentrations of oxygen to support primitive life forms and even sponges.
"Nobody thought of Mars as a place where aerobic respiration would work because there is so little oxygen in the atmosphere," said Stamenkovic. "What we're saying is it is possible that this planet that is so different from Earth could have given aerobic life a chance."
The next step will be to determine once and for all whether liquid water actually does exist on Mars.
To this end, Stamenkovic is currently working on a new piece of equipment that a future rover could deploy on the planet's surface to determine the presence of water and to measure its salinity.
"Amazing work has been done by NASA to look for evidence of past habitable environments," he said.
"I am a big promoter of looking for current habitable environments, and we can do that by starting to explore if there is liquid water on Mars."
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