Two new studies from the University of Arkansas show that some species can survive the harsh conditions found on Mars.
Rebecca Mikol and Tim Kral's research is based on methanogens - methane-producing microorganisms found on Earth. Methanogens are interesting for scientists considering the possibility of life on the Red Planet, because there is methane on Mars. On Earth, many methanogens can survive in extreme conditions (from geothermal deposits on the seabed to the Arctic permafrost).
In one experiment, scientists subjected 4 types of methanogens to temperature fluctuations from -80 ° C to 22 ° C for 24-hour and 48-hour cycles. Three of the four species survived in cold conditions, and one produced significantly more methane when it returned to its normal incubation temperature of 55 ° C. The data shows that methanogens can survive on modern Mars and could flourish in the past, when the planet was wet and warm. In the second experiment, three species were influenced by an atmospheric pressure of 50-100 millibar (below the surface of Mars). Atmospheric Martian pressure on the surface reaches about 7 millibar, and at sea level of the Earth - 1013 millibar.
One of the three species was actively growing at around 50 millibar, while the other two survived and continued to grow. That is, the environment of low pressure on Mars can kill some types of methanogens and increases the possibility of living under the surface of the planet.