Mars had enough oxygen to sustain life

Mars had enough oxygen to sustain life

New research based on NASA Curiosity rover manganese oxides discovery

Salt water just below the Martian surface could contain enough oxygen to support microbial life, which originated and flourished on Earth billions of years ago. A new study shows that in some places the amount of available oxygen could even support a primitive multicellular animal, like a sponge.

This idea completely revolutionizes our understanding of the potential of life on Mars today and in the past. Until now, it was believed that trace amounts of oxygen on the Red Planet are insufficient to maintain even microbial forms. Nobody assumed that oxygen is able to play a significant role with its amount of 0.14% in the atmosphere (on Earth - 21%).

On Earth, aerobic (breathing oxygen) life forms develop along with photosynthesis, which transforms CO 2 into O 2. Gas played a decisive role in the emergence of a complex life, noticeable after the Oxygen Catastrophe 2.35 billion years ago. However, there are also microbes on the ocean floor and in boiling hot springs, where there is no oxygen.

Was life on Mars?

A new study began with the discovery of the NASA Curiosity rover manganese oxides - a chemical compound obtained only with a large volume of oxygen. Rover also found the presence of high salt water with noticeable variations in the elements. The high level of salt allows water to remain in a liquid state, which is necessary for the dissolution of oxygen.

Depending on the region, season and time of day, the temperature of Mars varies from -195 ° C to 20 ° C. The researchers derived the first model to describe how oxygen dissolved in salt water at temperatures below 0 ° C. The second model estimated the climatic changes on the Red Planet over the past 20 million years and the next 10 million years.

The final calculations showed which Martian areas could produce oxygen based on brine, which means we have good landing sites for future probes. The results do not confirm the existence of Martian life, but it shows the high potential of its existence in the past.

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