In the last couple of years, we have learned so much about the red planet and like never before, Mars seems to be the next logical step for human exploration. In the past, Mars was considered as a dry, desolate planet with no chances for life as we know it to exist. However, this changed when researchers started finding traces of elements that shouldn’t be on Mars at all.
Although it may be unlikely that there is an intelligent alien species thriving on Mars today, it is possible that there are microorganisms living on Mars, and here is why.
While many firmly believe there is no way there are microorganisms on the red planet, millions of people around the world strongly believe the red planet can sustain life, and the evidence has been in front of us the whole time.
Here we bring you three ultimate pieces of evidence that could indicate the red planet is alive and sustains life forms.
The first and most obvious element that could mean there is life on Mars is water. In the past, researchers believed liquid water cannot exist on the red planet. However, this changed when a group of scientists found traces of liquid water flowing on the surface of Mars. Interestingly, not only have researchers discovered liquid water existing on Mars today, but they had also found that millions of years ago when Mars had an atmosphere resembling that of our planet, Mars was covered with immense oceans, rivers, and lakes. This means that millions of years ago, Mars was not a dry and barren place, but it was a planet very similar to Earth today.
The second most important discovery on the red planet are traces of Methane registered by the instruments of the Curiosity Rover. Interestingly, on Earth, 99% of methane is produced by living organisms. While NASA rover was exploring the Gale Crater on Mars, Curiosity registered surges of methane gas levels using the SAM instrument. These show that the base values are lower than thought, just 0.7 parts per billion in volume (ppmv), but data has also shown that the values increased significantly six times, on some occasions even exceeding seven ppmv, ten times higher. This indicates that there is an additional source of methane of unknown origin. The Gale crater, which has over 150 kilometers in diameter near the Martian Ecuador, and where the Curiosity rover registered the spikes of Methane was chosen due to its potential for research to find new clues about whether life existed on the red planet.
There is Oxygen on Mars. The latest discovery which raises hopes of discovering life on Mars was made from Earth. Thanks to a new study, researchers have discovered, for the first time in 40 years, atomic oxygen in Mars’ extremely thin atmosphere thanks to the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). In the distant past, Mars had an atmosphere eerily similar to that of Earth. Millions of years ago, Mars’ atmosphere protected the planet from space radiation and solar flares just as our atmosphere protects us today. However, at some point, Mar’s lost nearly all of its atmosphere to space, and the planet declined to change from a water-rich planet to an almost inhospitable, barren desert. Researchers observed traces of atomic oxygen for the first time during the Viking and Mariner missions of the 1970s, and researchers say that the extremely long gap between the discoveries is due to our planes blue skies. So far, scientists have not released the exact numbers of the amount of atomic oxygen present in the Martian atmosphere; they only stated that it was lower than expected. This is why the team of scientists will continue working with SOFIA to take a peek at other parts of the planet in order to make sure the results recently obtained aren’t the result of variations in the Red Planets atmosphere.