General, Research, Technology

Can toxic substances interfere with the existence of life on Mars?

At the moment, Mars seems to us lifelessplanet, but in fact, life can exist on it. Many scientists are sure that there are at least microbes in the Martian soil. But other researchers believe that there can be no life in the depths of the planet, because the alien soil is full of toxic substances. Basically we are talking about the so-called perchloratesthat are dangerous to most living things onEarth. But recently, Russian scientists conducted a series of experiments and found out that there is nothing particularly dangerous in these substances for bacteria and other microscopic creatures. What's more, in some cases, they even help bacteria multiply. Also, perchlorates have another property that can support life on another planet. But let's look at everything in order.

Life almost certainly exists on Mars, but some scientists still don't believe it.

Perchlorates - these are salts and ethers that were formed fromperchloric acid. On Earth, they are caused by lightning strikes and by ultraviolet rays in the atmosphere. On Mars, they arise from the friction of soil particles during dust storms. Scientists use perchlorates as a rocket fuel additive.

Poisonous substances on Mars

Poisonous to most microscopicThere are plenty of perchlorate organisms in the Martian soil. Their concentration reaches 1%, which is a lot from a scientific point of view. That is why some scientists believe that life cannot be sustained in Martian soil with such a composition. But recently, Russian scientists conducted an experiment, the results of which were published in the scientific publication International Journal of Astrobiology. In short, they found that many bacteria can live in soil that is high in perchlorate. In addition, they talked about the positive properties of these substances.

Scientists know about the presence of perchlorates on Mars thanks to the rovers sent there.

Bacteria on Mars

The experiment involved bacteria thatlive in the soil of the hot deserts of the Earth. We have recently found out that the conditions on the Earth's Atacama Desert are very similar to those of Mars. At a depth of about 30 centimeters, a layer of moist soil begins on this desert, which is home to about 30 species of microbes. Most of them are halophilic organismswho are able to live in extreme conditions. Apparently, for the experiment, scientists took samples of the earth's soil with the same bacteria.

In terms of soil composition, the Atacama Desert is very similar to Mars

These samples were soaked in water with perchlorates. There were also control samples soaked in plain water without impurities. When the concentration of toxic substances in the first group of samples reached 5%, they were left alone for 10 days. Scientists wondered if bacteria could get used to extreme conditions or not. Considering that halophilic organisms are able to live in highly salty and other non-standard conditions, they could well get along in other conditions.

Perchlorates on Mars are believed to be due to the "dust devils"

As you might expect, perchlorates did not applymicrobes of particular harm. After 10 days, the number of bacteria in the soil samples impregnated with perchlorates was the same as in the samples with ordinary water. Moreover, some types of bacteria even began to multiply faster in extreme conditions. And all this despite the fact that the concentration of toxic substances in the samples (5%) was much higher than in the Martian soil (1%).

See also: What materials can be used to build houses on Mars?

Perchlorates have another good property -they prevent water from turning into water. Considering that the air temperature on Mars sometimes drops to -50 degrees Celsius, this is a really useful feature. It turns out that liquid water can still exist on a distant planet, which further enhances the belief that life can exist on it. Perhaps in the coming years we will finally prove that we are not alone in the solar system.

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There is a theory that once upon a time Marswas a truly living planet and not only bacteria could live on it. And all because on its surface there are traces of rivers and lakes, which millions of years ago could support the life of animals and plants. On the topic of what the planet Mars looked like a few million years ago, we have a separate material. If you are interested in this topic - welcome and enjoy your reading!