Life was possible on Mars – but microbes make the Red Planet uninhabitable

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of: Tanya Banner

Mars may have once harbored life – until it changed climate and made its planet uninhabitable. This reflects a new study.

Tucson – When It Comes to Mars planet There are many questions that pertain to research: whether or there is life on the red planet, How Mars lost its water and atmosphere, And how did the Red Planet get so cold? A study by French and American researchers could now answer two of these questions at once – and provide a surprising explanation.

The research team, led by astrobiologist Boris Sotre (University of Arizona and Université Paris Sciences et Lettres), assumed for this study that Mars was habitable 3.7 billion years ago and that microorganisms lived on the planet at that time, which spread by feeding on hydrogen. . and the production of methane in the process (called methanogenic hydrogenotrophs). According to the research, the situation on Earth was very similar: researchers believe that methanogenic hydrogenotrophs were among the first organisms on Earth and that their methane production warmed and stabilized Earth’s climate. As a result, more complex life forms emerged.

Study: Life is said to have been on Mars for some time

“We believe that Mars was slightly cooler than Earth then, but not nearly as cold as it is today, with average temperatures likely higher than the freezing point of water,” explains Regis Ferrire, co-author in an Communications from the University of Arizona, “While Mars is currently described as an ice cube covered with dust, we envision early Mars as a rocky planet with a porous crust, saturated with liquid water that could possibly form lakes. and creates rivers, perhaps even seas or oceans.”

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The lead author explains the Sauteri portal In the shlokas: “We know that Mars was hot early, so we wanted to provide a biological explanation for this early climate.” But instead, the researchers found that the opposite of what happened on Earth happened on Mars: In the researchers’ simulation, the Red Planet was filled with life underground in the form of methanogenic microorganisms for many millions of years.

Climate change on Mars: Microbes may have made the planet uninhabitable

However, more and more methane entered the atmosphere and the interaction of methane with the Martian atmosphere and the salty ice caps of the poles continued to cool the planet. “By removing hydrogen from the atmosphere, microbes would have substantially cooled the planet’s climate,” explains Sautere. In simulation, Mars was almost completely covered by a layer of ice within half a million years.

Researchers are looking for liquid water on Mars.  (icon picture)
Researchers are looking for liquid water on Mars. (iconic image) © IMAGO/Marcos Osorio

So climate change caused by life on Mars may have contributed to making the planet’s surface uninhabitable very quickly. “The problem facing these microbes is that the Martian atmosphere would have basically disappeared, completely depleted, so their energy source would have disappeared and they would have to find an alternative energy source,” explains Sotri. ” “Also, the temperatures would have dropped significantly, and they would have to go much deeper into the crust. At the moment it is very difficult to say how long Mars would have been habitable.”

Mars: Life may have survived in the deep layers

But in some low-lying regions, life may persist near Mars’ surface for at least some time, study says in the magazine nature astronomy free became. Researchers identify three regions on Mars where there is a high probability of finding traces of early methanogenic life near the Martian surface:

  • Hellas Planitia
  • isidis planitia
  • Jezero Crater

life on Mars? NASA Rover Survey Areas of Interest

One of the areas mentioned – Jezero Crater – has been in use since March 2021 NASA-rover “Perseverance” examined. Mars Rover Recently discovered organic matter And delighted the research community with the prospect of bringing the material to Earth in the coming years.

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When will you see what’s going on on Mars next full moon what other subjects are in the sky astronomy just important? What’s happening in and around NASA, SpaceX space travel, subscribe free space newsletter And stay up to date.

Lead author Sautre took a somewhat gloomy view of the findings of his study: “The fact that a very primitive biosphere could have made the climate on Mars very cold, potentially making it uninhabitable, it suggests that life is one of the limiting factors for similarity. The universe itself can be life,” he emphasized. In the shlokas Pointing out to humanity and climate change on Earth. “Perhaps it is a common fate of life in the universe to self-destruct.” (tab)

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