Life on Mars? Microbes SURVIVE in space, boosting hopes of alien life on Mars

Life on Earth is amazingly robust, capable of not only surviving but thriving in the world’s most extreme environments. Researchers have questioned whether life is as hardy on other alien planets. Now NASA scientists have proved life on Earth really can survive the extremes of space – boosting beliefs life exists on Mars.

NASA scientists showed certain simple organisms found on Earth can survive the red planet’s brutal conditions for months on end.

Researchers placed a case of microbes to the outside of the International Space Station (ISS), where they were blasted with brutal cosmic radiation and the suffocating vacuum of space for 18 exhausting months.

And scientists were stunned to discover some of the small lifeforms survived, suggesting similar basic forms of life could thrive on Mars.

Several archaea and bacteria species fared the best, while more complex, multicellular organisms like fungi and lichens struggled a bit more.

The research was conducted at the German Aerospace Centre in Cologne, Germany.

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Dr Jean-Pierre Paul de Vera, the team’s lead scientist said: “Some of the organisms and biomolecules have shown tremendous resistance to radiation in the open space and actually returned to Earth as ‘survivors’ of space.”

Dr Jean-Pierre Paul de Vera added certain single-cell organisms “would be candidates for life forms that we could imagine on Mars.”

His “Biomex” experiment tested the space survival skills of microscopic organisms like bacteria, algae, lichens and fungi.

The basic lifeforms were exposed to vacuum, extreme ultra-violet radiation and brutal temperature variation on a platform attached to the ISS for 533 days.

A Soyuz rocket capsule returned the microbes to Earth in 2016.

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Space scientists have for decades debated whether life could survive the arduous conditions on Mars.

Anything living on the planet’s surface would be exposed to extreme radiation and temperatures that vary from highs of 20 Celsius to lows of −153 Celsius.

And this ground-breaking study proves life really can withstand the Martian climate, although it cannot prove alien life does exist there.

Dr De Vera said: “Of course, our research does not mean that life really happens on Mars.

“But the search is now more than ever the most powerful driving force for the next generation of space missions to Mars.”

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The result adds to the growing belief life on Earth actually arrived from Mars.

Some space scientists are convinced our nearest neighbour was home to microorganisms four billion years ago and an asteroid strike blasted some into space aboard chunks of Martian rock.

These chunks then collided with an early version of Earth, depositing the microbes and leaving the foundations for all life on Earth.

Scientists had previously doubted whether any life could survive the perilous trip from Mars, but the German Aerospace Centre study has now categorically proven some life forms are more than capable.

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