Microbes from Earth Cannot Survive on Mars

Back in 2015, an exciting discovery proved that liquid water is flowing over the surface of the fourth planet from the Sun. Once that discovery was made, researchers all over the globe got excited about the possibility of testing it. However, according to the United Nation’s Outer Space Treaty, ratified in 1967, space exploration must be performed in a manner that thoroughly avoids contamination.

Unfortunately, we have no way of completely sterilizing the equipment we have on Earth of the microbes present here. This would essentially mean that the water found on Mars cannot even be touched.

According to Edgard G. Rivera-Valentin, a planetary scientist affiliated with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) and with the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), all kinds of life present on Earth, even the so-called extremophiles, have certain limits to the environments they can withstand. An analysis has been performed of the chemistry of the stable liquids found on Mars to see whether the environment there could at least sustain the most extreme forms of life found on Earth.

When attempting to understand how life could be present somewhere, scientists often see if the conditions are suitable for Earth’s extremophiles. Some of the most extreme environments include the arid Atacama Desert found in Chile, the Dallol Geothermal Area in Ethiopia, which is salty and exceedingly acidic. Even the near-Earth space found aboard the International Space Station is considered an extreme environment.

Even though all of these environments have a lot in common with Mars, one thing they are not is Mars. It would seem that liquid water is necessary for life to be sustained. On Mars, however, freshwater in its liquid form cannot be found on Mars’ surface. The planet is so hostile that the water will evaporate or the opposite – freeze.

This paper has been published in Science Alert.