Can life really exist on Mars? Can the red planet be our second home? Well – “maybe”, because a new study revealed that Mars might have more oxygen and oxygenated water that what we previously thought.
A group of scientists the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) discovered that the oxygenated water reservoirs underneath Mars’ upper crust holds the amount of oxygen that what was thought so far. In fact, the amount of oxygen present in the salty brine water might be enough to support microbial life. Also, certain areas of Mars could possibly exceed the threshold needed for simple aerobic life and could support multicellular organisms like sponges – even today.
The scientists say that this finding can actually revolutionize our theories about existence of life on Mars, because till know, it was believed that the traces of water and oxygen on the red planet are insufficient to support even microbes. The amount of oxygen present on the planet was supposed to be about 0.14%, and here on earth, we have 21% oxygen to be able to thrive. However, the new research was initiated when NASA rover Curiosity found deposits of manganese oxides, which are chemical compounds that can only be produced with a lot of oxygen.
Although all this sounds very fascinating and life may or may not exist on the neighbouring red planet, but it should also be noted that these findings are hypothetical. If the recent calculations are true, Mars might be have a thriving microbial population under its surface, but our rovers need to stay clear of the areas that might contain water – because our earthling bacteria may have survived the trip to the red planet and could destroy the possible Martian life. So actual exploration of life on Mars might still take some time and until then, we can only calculate – hypothetically.