Hopes Of Finding Life On Mars Dealt With A Blow, Dive In To Know About The Latest Study Revelation Of The Red Planet’s Environment

Hopes of finding life on Mars, at least on the surface, have been dealt a blow recently. In this session, we will learn about the study and revelation regarding the reason behind that loss of hope.

Blow To The Hope and Reason Behind It

On Thursday, hopes of finding life on Mars anytime soon had to deal with a blow to it. A new study has revealed that the salt minerals present on the Red Planet would kill bacteria.

Source: The Christian Science Monitor (Curiosity Mars rover took a low-angle self-portrait on Aug. 5, 2015, above the "Buckskin" rock target in the "Marias Pass" area of lower Mount Sharp.)
Source: The Christian Science Monitor (Curiosity Mars rover took a low-angle self-portrait on Aug. 5, 2015, above the “Buckskin” rock target in the “Marias Pass” area of lower Mount Sharp.)

In lab tests back on Earth, the compounds known as perchlorates killed cultures of the bacterial species Bacillus subtilis. B. subtilis is regarded as a basic life form. The research duo of Jennifer Wadsworth and Charles Cockell from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Physics and Astronomy reported the new study’s revelation.

While perchlorates are stable at room temperature, they become active at high heat. Planet Mars is very cold.

The Study and Experimentation

In the new study, the research duo showed that perchlorates can also be activated by UV light, without heat, in conditions duplicating that those on the Martian surface. The team said that the perchlorates killed the bacterial specimen within minutes, implying the planet was “more uninhabitable than previously thought“.

“If we want to find life on Mars, we have to take this into consideration and look at trying to find sub-surface life that wouldn’t be exposed to these conditions,”

Jennifer Wadsworth told the AFP.

Source: TechnoBlitz (Bacillus subtilis)
Source: TechnoBlitz (Bacillus subtilis)

The new study also said brine seeps,

although they represent local regions of water availability, could be deleterious to cells

if they contain perchlorates.

The fact that perchlorates killed B. subtilis in the presence of UV radiation does not essentially connote that all other life forms would be facing a similar fate, Wadsworth said. Further tests would have to be done to confirm this.

What Are Perchlorates?

A perchlorate is a name for a chemical compound containing the perchlorate ion, ClO. Perchlorate salts are mainly used for propellants. It’s contamination in the environment has been extensively studied as it has effects on human health. It is both natural and man-made on Earth.

Source: Wikipedia (A 2D structural representation of perchlorate ion)
Source: Wikipedia (A 2-D structural representation of perchlorate ion)

Perchlorates on Mars

Perchlorates are abundant on Mars. They were first recorded by NASA’s Phoenix Lander back in 2008. Perchlorates have previously been spotted in lines, previously thought to be brine streaks, on the Martian surface. In 2015, scientists presented the perchlorates’ presence as evidence of liquid water on the Red Planet.

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Good News From The Study

The new findings do contain some good news. This new finding does mean that the possible organic contaminants left on Mars by the robotic explorations, of which B. subtilis is one of the most common specimens, are very much unlikely to survive long.

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It is widely accepted that Mars once had abundant water in liquid form, and still has water today, though in the frozen state underground.

Source: YouTube (Water is present in frozen state underground and in polar regions in Mars)
Source: YouTube (Water is present in frozen state underground and in polar regions in Mars)

Liquid water is a prerequisite for life as is known till date.

News Courtesy: The Telegraph