No life has been detected on the surface of the planet Mars, however, reports of traces of water which existed once raises questions about a possible past life-supporting environment. The ExoMars mission (2022) by the European Space Agency and Roscosmos will be used to explore beneath the surface for evidence of life.
The erosion of the Martian atmosphere resulted in drastic changes in its climate, surface water disappeared, shrinking habitable spaces on the planet, with only a limited amount of water remaining near the surface in form of brines and water-ice deposits. Life, if it ever existed, would have had to adapt to harsh modern conditions, which include low temperatures and surface pressure, and high radiation dose.
The study from astrophysicist and research scientist at the Center for Space Science at NYU Abu Dhabi, Dimitra Atri, finds that conditions below the surface could potentially support life. The report was published in the journal Scientific Reports, Springer Nature.
Dimitra Atri said:
“It is exciting to contemplate that life could survive in such a harsh environment, as few as two meters below the surface of Mars.”
“When the Rosalind Franklin rover on board the ExoMars mission (ESA and Roscosmos), equipped with a subsurface drill, is launched in 2022, it will be well-suited to detect extant microbial life and hopefully provide some important insights.”