For 280 million years, bacteria may thrive just below Mars’ surface.

Bacteria can endure the powerful radiation that the Red Planet emits for hundreds of millions of years when dried and frozen, as they would likely be just below the surface of Mars.

It may be possible for microorganisms to endure on Mars for much longer than previously anticipated. Researchers recently discovered that dried-up bacteria might survive in conditions similar to those on Mars for up to 280 million years, increasing the likelihood that we would discover signs of them if Mars had ever supported life.

The majority of earlier tests to see if microorganisms could endure the harsh radiation on Mars utilised hydrated bacteria that were kept at room temperature, with the longest-living strains expected to be able to last for up to a million years. A different approach was used by Brian Hoffman and his colleagues at Northwestern University in Illinois. They desiccated and frozen a variety of bacteria and yeast before exposing them to radiation that would be experienced by a life form buried on Mars, evaluating the damage.

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When you remove the water and cool everything down, the resistance multiplies astronomically, according to Hoffman. It is comparable to freeze-drying food to extend its shelf life. Bacteria would probably be present on Mars given that it is a dry, frigid environment. The radiation in the samples used by the researchers caused so little radiation damage that they believed the bacteria may survive for up to 280 million years.

During that time, the bacteria would awaken from their dormant state if they were warmed up and exposed to water. It raises the possibility that if a meteor carrying water falls and splashes on the surface, it may regenerate, according to Hoffman. The likelihood that it is still alive has gone from zero to the tiniest thing you can conceive. It is not zero, but it most definitely isn’t large. Even the most tenacious microbes have probably long since died off when Mars dried up, which is thought to have happened roughly 3 billion years ago.

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This longevity means that if we infect it with Earthly creatures, that contamination would be almost permanent, but it could also make it simpler for us to locate preserved traces of any bacteria that had lived on Mars.

Hoffman asks, “How do we know whether what we find was there before we got there or whether it was something we dumped if we contaminate the area that we land in?” “It’s impossible to know whether there was life there if we can’t tell what’s ours and what’s theirs, so to speak.”

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