NASA scientists perplexed by Martian life conditions

Following the discovery of evidence of flowing water on Mars earlier this week, NASA scientists are seriously considering what the finding means for the ongoing search for extraterrestrial life.

It has been a huge week for NASA following their announcement of evidence of water on the Red Planet, Mars. According to a report from the Herald Sun, researchers are just beginning to wrap their heads around what the conditions on Mars could tell us about the potential presence of extraterrestrial life.

According to Paulo de Souza, the CSIRO scientist based in Hobart, the discovery means that Mars is almost certainly habitable. That doesn’t mean we should expect to find complex Martian creatures hiding on the surface of the red planet, and it equally doesn’t mean that humans could set up shop there and have no problem surviving. It does, however, mean that certain bacteria able to withstand extreme conditions may be waiting to be discovered somewhere on Mars.

The space agency’s announcement of the presence of liquid water on Mars brings new hope to the majority of people who thought the planet was barren and lifeless. Dr. de Souza, a researcher working with the team that operates the Mars rover Opportunity, believes that this is one of the most important discoveries in space exploration to date. It rivals only the revelation that the Earth actually orbited the sun, and not vice versa.

De Souza thinks that Mars could have had microbial life all along. If single-celled organisms could have been surviving on the Red Planet until the present day, it would certainly have been difficult to spot them. Single celled organisms are some of the most diverse here on Earth and can survive in a number of extreme environments, like at the bottom of the Antarctic Ocean, or near highly sulfuric vents that provide energy from the Earth’s molten core.

Water is one of the most important ingredients for life to exist. It helps cells regulate themselves and perform some of the essential functions for surviving. If there were no water on Mars, then there would be absolutely no chance that life could survive there. Now that we know there is water, however, the search for living things just got infinitely more serious.

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