NASA’s Goddard Flight Centre
An illustration of Mars’ early environment (right), believed to have contained liquid water and a thicker atmosphere, is a world away from Mars’ cold, dry environment today (left).
Nationalgeographic.co.id—Mars and Earth have some similarities. The similarities are what make scientists explore how life could form on the planet Mars by examining what is on Earth.
A study in the ISME Journal April 8, 2022, attempts to investigate the formation of Martian life by retrieving microbes from surface sediments near Lost Hammer Spring, Canada, 900 kilometers south of the Arctic.
The environment here is very salty, very cold, and nearly oxygen-free in parts of the Canadian Arctic. The microbes taken had never been identified before, so the researchers dug into their metabolism.
“It took several years of working with sediments before we were able to detect active microbial communities,” said Elisse Magnuson, first author of the paper from Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University, Canada. release.
“Environmental saltiness interferes with extraction and sequencing microbesso when we were able to find evidence of an active microbial community, it was a very satisfying experience.”
This microbe is unique because it can survive in areas similar to Mars. They survive by eating and breathing simple inorganic compounds also found on Mars. Compounds such as methane, sulfides, sulfates, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide.
Lost Hammer Spring is one of the coldest and saltiest terrestrial springs found today. There the water flows through 600 meters of frost onto a very salty surface.
The stream is known to flow continuously even though the ambient conditions are below minus five degrees Celsius and contain almost no oxygen. The high concentration of salt keeps springs from freezing and maintains a liquid water habitat below freezing temperatures.
These conditions are similar to those in certain areas of Mars. Salt deposits are widespread and the possibility of cold salt springs has been monitored. Previous research has revealed that microbes in environments like those on Mars could be a clue, to search for living and active microbes on our neighboring planet.
Elisse Magnuson/McGill University
Microbes extracted from surface sediments near Lost Hammer Spring, Canada, about 900 km south of the Arctic, could provide a blueprint for the types of life forms that may have existed, or may still exist, on Mars.