Ancient bacteria, shielded from harsh space radiation, might be sleeping on Martian surface

Ancient bacteria, shielded from harsh space radiation, might be sleeping on Martian surface

Mars was probably more habitable for life billions of years ago

According to recent research, ancient microbes may be dozing beneath the surface of Mars, protected from the harsh radiation of space for millions of years.

Although there hasn't been any proof of life on Mars, scientists recreated its environment in a lab to explore if bacteria and fungi could survive. The researchers were shocked to learn that bacteria could probably live for 280 million years if they were buried and shielded from the solar radiation and ionising radiation that constantly pummelled the Martian surface.

The results suggested that if life had existed on Mars, the remnants of past life may still be present in the planet's subsurface, where future expeditions may drill into the Martian soil.

Mars was probably more habitable for life billions of years ago when it had an atmosphere and water on its surface, but now it resembles a frozen desert. Average temperatures in the planet's arid midlatitudes are minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 62 degrees Celsius). And because Mars' atmosphere is so thin, radiation is another persistent danger.

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The limits of microbial life's ability to survive when subjected to the kind of ionising radiation that it would encounter on Mars have been established by researchers. The team then exposed six different kinds of Earth-based bacteria and fungi to a model Martian surface environment while bombarding them with protons or gamma rays to replicate space radiation.

Deinococcus radiodurans emerged as the winner without a doubt. The hardy bacteria, known as "Conan the Bacterium" because of this, appeared to be ideal for life on Mars.

The bacteria is polyextremophile, which means it can withstand extreme temperatures, acidity, and dehydration. One of the most radiation-resistant species known to science is the hardy bacterium.

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