Scientists Examined Chilean Desert To Estimate The Likelihood For Life On Mars

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Today it is almost sure that Mars had a vast ocean perhaps for up to 2 billion years, long enough for life on Mars to emerge. Likewise, water deposits have been found on the Red Planet, so the likelihood for extraterrestrial life on Mars is high. But is not necessary to go there to estimate the probability for that.

Of course, research on the Red Planet would be very relevant, but we won’t be able to do that before the 2030s when NASA plans to send humans to Mars. In the meantime, a team of scientists investigated in the Chilean desert and high plateau of northern Chile some life forms considered similar to those that would be living on other planets of the Solar System or nearby exoplanets.

Dr. David Holmes, a computational biologist, an astrobiologist at the Genomics and Bioinformatics Center of the Universidad Mayor de Chile and the Fundacion Ciencia y Vida, is leading research on the site. He is convinced that there are other inhabitable territories inside and outside our galaxy that we could explore in the future, but that local research is also relevant as the Chilean desert and high plateau are analogous territories that reflect the reality of Mars.

“We study those environments to find out what might have happened on this planet or to understand what might happen in others that we don’t yet know (…) I am certain that there is life somewhere in the Universe, at least in the form of small microorganisms. On moons of planets like Jupiter or Saturn, or in areas of Mars and Venus there can be microbial life, unicellular organisms like those we find on Earth,” Dr. Holmes said.

Scientists Examined Chilean Desert To Estimate The Likelihood For Life On Mars

These same microorganisms, he specified, can help to explain many questions, among them the appearance of life some 4,500 million years ago, when the Earth had very high temperatures and was bombarded by space rocks.

“The extremophiles of northern Chile are good at understanding, for example, how life began, what kind of energy sources would they have used then? Elements like iron, sulfur, and hydrogen were available on primitive Earth and now in those territories as well, nourishing these species that can survive on inorganic chemical energy,” the researcher added.

In that context, the researcher considers that, if life existed in our Solar System, it would be very similar to what is known today, based on carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, water, sulfur, and iron, among other elements.

“In the rest of the Universe, it is still uncertain to understand what kind of life there is, but I think that in the next 20 or 50 years we could find signs of it,” Dr. Holmes concluded.

Vadim Ioan Caraiman

Vadim is a passionate writer on various topics but especially on stuff related to health, technology, and science. Therefore, for Great Lakes Ledger, Vadim will cover health and Sci&Tech news.