Extreme Life on Earth Could Survive on Mars, Too
A new discovery of bacterial life in a Martian-like environment on Earth suggests our neighboring red planet could also be hospitable to some form of microbial life.
Researchers found methane-eating bacteria that appear to be thriving in a unique spring called Lost Hammer on Axel Heiberg Island in the extreme north of Canada.
This spring is similar to possible past or present springs on Mars, the scientists say, so it hints that microbial life could potentially exist there, too. There is no firm evidence that Mars does or ever did host life, however.
The Lost Hammer spring is extremely salty – so much so that the water doesn’t freeze, even though temperatures are below freezing. The water has no consumable oxygen in it, but there are big bubbles of methane that rise to the surface.
And yet, the researchers found unique anaerobic organisms – creatures that don’t need oxygen to survive – thriving in the spring. The hardy organisms most likely breathe sulfate instead of oxygen, the researchers said.