Washington, August 21 (ANI): Scientists in the United States are set to create Mars conditions in lab chambers to see if microbial life exists in droplets of saltwater on the red planet.
A new million-dollar NASA project led by the University of Michigan will begin three years after beads of liquid brine were first photographed on one of the Mars Phoenix lander's legs.
The Phoenix photos are believed to be the first pictures of liquid water outside the Earth.
"On Earth, everywhere there's liquid water, there is microbial life," said Nilton Renno, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences who is the principal investigator.
Once scientists create Mars conditions of atmospheric pressures and temperatures in the lab, they will study how and when brines form.
Their colleagues overseas will seed similar chambers with salt-loving "extremophile" microorganisms from deep in Antarctic lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. The will observe whether these organisms survive, grow and reproduce in brines just below the surface of the soil. All known forms of life need liquid water to live. But microbes don't need much. A droplet or a thin film could suffice, researchers say.
"If we find microbes that can survive and replicate in brines at Mars conditions, we would have demonstrated that microbes could exist on Mars today," Renno said. (ANI)
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