… but it could be lurking in the depths
Scientists have virtually ruled out the possibility of life on Mars having revealed the planet experienced a 600 year water drought.
Samples of soil found that the surface had been starved of any moisture that might enhance the view that there are living organisms on the red planet.
Researchers spent three years gathering the the specific particles, which they likened to the soil found on the Moon – where it is conclusive that no life exists.
Dr Tom Pike, who fronted the study, said: ‘We found that even though there is an abundance of ice, Mars has been experiencing a super-drought that may well have lasted hundreds of millions of years.
‘We think the Mars we know today contrasts sharply with its earlier history, which had warmer and wetter periods and which may have been more suited to life.
‘Future NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) missions that are planned for Mars will have to dig deeper to search for evidence of life, which may still be taking refuge underground.’
The sample was collected during Nasa’s 2008 mission to Mars and was extracted from the northern region of the planet.
Despite that area being arctic, separate studies revealed that the planet in its entirety is covered with the exact same substance.
The results noted that most Earth-like organisms would need to retreat underground to survive on Mars.
Below ground, there is sufficient pressure for water to be kept in a liquid state, which would enable microbes to thrive.
And while the surface temperature is not ideal for life, being an extremely chilly -65C, below ground it would be much warmer thanks to heat from the planet’s core.
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