Science Questions

Could extremophile bacteria survive on Mars?

Fri, 25th Feb 2011

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Question

Isaac Lee asked:

I learned about extreme forms of bacteria living in anabsenceof sunlight in caves with sulfuric acid, and I was wondering, could that life be sustained on Mars?

 

Thanks!

 

Isaac Lee

Grade 9

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isaac lee asked the Naked Scientists: Hey Scientists! I learned about extreme forms of bacteria living in anabsenceof sunlight in caves with sulfuric acid, and I was wondering, could that life be sustained on Mars? Thanks! Isaac Lee Grade 9 What do you think? isaac lee , Sat, 12th Feb 2011

It's doubtful that any form of extremophile could survive on the surface of Mars for very long, at least not in a form that can thrive and reproduce. All living things known require liquid water, and this is true for extremophiles as well. Mars has no liquid water on its surface. Some forms of life can dehydrate into a form of "suspended animation" that can survive for quite some time. However, since the dry conditions on Mars are constant, it's not a very useful trait there. Radiation would also have a tendency to damage any microbes over time.

Under the surface, they may stand a much better chance. If they are deep enough, radiation could be lowered to tolerable levels. It is also hypothesized that deposits of liquid water may exist under the surface as well. I don't know if there is any convincing evidence of this fact or not. Supercryptid, Sat, 12th Feb 2011

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