Stories tagged life


Researchers think if Mars ever had water on it, it was early in its lifecycle.
Researchers think if Mars ever had water on it, it was early in its lifecycle.

A long time ago; far, far away, there might have been life on Mars.

Those are the conclusions researchers are coming to has they pull together data gathered from several space probes to the Red Planet over the past decade.

It all adds up to the possibility that Mars could have supported life during its first 1 billion years of existence. For the past 3.5 billion years, its conditions have been too harsh to sustain life as we know it. It became too cold and too dry for even the basic forms of live, microbes, to exist.

The findings of the research team were recently published in the journal Science. A team of international space experts has been studying the data gathered from various space missions.

In its first 600 million years, Mars likely had plenty of water, temperate weather and low acid levels. The research team has been able to figure that out by examining the oldest rocks they’ve found from the missions. Those rocks have been exposed on Mars’ surface due to erosion, cratering and large temblors.

Exactly were the water may have been on Mars is still up for debate. The research team keeps open the possibility that the planet’s surface never had large amounts of water covering it. Clay deposits, a key link to the presence of water on Mars, have been found beneath the planet’s surface. And the few exposed sections of clay may have been formed below the surface and later pushed up or exposed.

The tame first segment of the planet’s life was followed by 500 million years of great volcanic activity that filled the atmosphere with sulfur. Those particles fell back down in the form of sulfuric acid, while at the same time Mars began to lose its atmosphere. Then over the course of the next 300 million years, Mars got to its icy-cold, rusty-red look that it has still today.

All of this information is helping scientists plan where they want to send future Mars probes to get even more answers to these questions on Mars’ origins.


News reports last week indicated that scientists had found methane on Mars—a chemical that usually indicates life. However,
NASA says it ain't so.

"News reports on February 16, 2005, that NASA scientists from Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., have found strong evidence that life may exist on Mars are incorrect.

"NASA does not have any observational data from any current Mars missions that supports this claim. The work by the scientists mentioned in the reports cannot be used to directly infer anything about life on Mars, but may help formulate the strategy for how to search for martian life. Their research concerns extreme environments on Earth as analogs of possible environments on Mars. No research paper has been submitted by them to any scientific journal asserting martian life."