Life on Mars May Still Be Difficult at the Moment, Study Suggests
With the results of the past presidential elections, many Americans are thinking about the future of life in the Red Planet. However, a new study showed that it very difficult for life to exists on Mars today.
The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, showed that the very salty water that can condense in top layers of Martian soils is much less than the moisture present in the driest places on Earth.
"Evidence shows that more than 3 billion years ago Mars was wet and habitable. However, this latest research reaffirms just how dry the environment is today," said Dr Christian Schröder, Lecturer in Environmental Science and Planetary Exploration at the University of Stirling and Science Team Collaborator for the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity mission, in a statement. "For life to exist in the areas we investigated, it would need to find pockets far beneath the surface, located away from the dryness and radiation present on the ground."
For the study, the researchers examined a cluster of meteorites at Meridiani Planum using data from the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. By studying the chemical weathering rate of the meteorite on Mars, the researchers were able to demonstrate the lack of water on the surface of the red planet.
The researchers found out that it would take at least 10 and possibly up to 10,000 times longer for rust to form from the metallic iron present in meteorites on Mars to reach the same levels of rust formation than in the driest desserts of Earth. Rust formation is chemical weathering process that depends on the presence of water.
With their findings, the researchers have reasons to believe that the current environment of the Red Planet may not be suitable for life. Furthermore, evidence points out that Mars is incredibly dry and has remained to be as such for millions of years.