News ID: 202535
Published: 0501 GMT October 17, 2017

Life on Mars: Aliens could be beneath surface

Life on Mars: Aliens could be beneath surface
THE TELEGRAPH

The discovery of life on Mars is edging closer to reality after scientists found that extremely hardy bacteria could thrive in the Red Planet’s tough environment.

Experts ran experiments which mimicked the conditions on Mars and found a type of salt in the soil — magnesium perchlorate — could prevent water from freezing beneath the surface, express.co.uk wrote.

A similar process is found on Earth beneath Arctic glaciers and sometimes beneath volcanoes.

In the Earth-based environments, bacteria has been found to survive, leading to theories that the same process could be happening beneath the surface of Mars where temperatures can get as low as 155°C.

Dr. Lorna Dougan, from the University of Leeds’ School of Physics and Astronomy and the Astbury Center said of the research published in the journal Nature Communications: "The discovery of significant amounts of different perchlorate salts in Martian soil gives new insight into the Martian 'riverbeds.'

"The surface temperatures on Mars may reach a high of about 20°C at the equator and as low as -153°C at the pole.

“With an average surface temperature of -55° C, water itself cannot exist as a liquid on Mars, but concentrated solutions of perchlorate could survive these low temperatures.

“The magnesium perchlorate is clearly a major contributing factor on the freezing point of this solution and paves the way for understanding how a fluid might exist under the sub-freezing conditions of Mars.”

The scientist says it raises interesting questions about the possibility of life on Mars.

He said: “If the structure of Martian water is highly pressurized, perhaps we might expect to find organisms adapted to high pressure life similar to piezophiles on Earth, such as deep sea bacteria and other organisms that thrive at high pressure.

"This highlights the importance of studying life in extreme environments in both terrestrial and non-terrestrial environments so that we can fully understand the natural limits of life.

   
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