The possibility of extraterrestrial life on Mars is a topic that has captivated astronomers for decades.
Despite the best efforts of the scientific community, no evidence of past or present life has been found on Mars.
Still, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not there, many experts have concluded.
There may be several ways that evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars could elude us.
Life could be hiding beneath the surface
A recent study indicated that we need to look deeper below the surface of Mars to find traces of life.
Indeed, any evidence of amino acids left from a time when Mars might have been habitable is likely buried at least 6.6 feet underground.
Scientists are looking for amino acids because of their role in forming life as we know it, according to the Scripps Research Institute.
Amino acids, which can be created by life and by non-biological chemistry, are a key component in building proteins essential for life.
And because Mars has no magnetic field, its surface is subject to a lot of cosmic radiation which destroys amino acids.
“Our results suggest that amino acids are being destroyed by cosmic rays in Martian surface rocks and regolith at a much faster rate than previously thought,” said Alexander Pavlov of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. in Greenbelt, Maryland.
“Current Mars rover missions go down to about two inches (about five centimeters). At these depths, it would only take 20 million years to completely destroy the amino acids.
In light of this new research, a new strategy is needed when drilling shallow surfaces with rovers like Perservenace or Curiosity.
Life can exist in ways we don’t yet recognize
Nasa scientist Dr. Moogega Cooper spoke with Talks at Google in April about life on Mars.
When asked if she thought Mars had or had life, Cooper’s response was positive.
She said, “Did water exist on Mars? Yes. Does Mars have any interesting chemistry that could have potentially hosted or supported life? Yes.”
For these reasons alone, Cooper suggests, we cannot rule out that life once existed on the Red Planet.
NASA has also not completely ruled out that there is life on Mars or other planets.
Maybe it’s just the life we don’t understand yet.
Cooper notes that microbes on Earth can exist in extremely harsh environments and the same could be said for Mars.
If we find life, Cooper’s next job would be to make sure Earth is safe when a sample of it is returned here.
She explained to Talks at Google: “One day we hope to bring samples back to our own planet and you must have the same consideration.
“When you bring something back, you don’t want to bring something back that could be harmful to humans.
This story originally appeared on The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission