This is an image of the surface of Mars.
Click on image for full size
NASA

Can there be Life in the Environment of Mars?

In spite of the fact that Mars has an atmosphere, the environment of Mars seems unfriendly toward life as we know it on earth.

Mars has little atmosphere . This means that the temperature above the surface is cold. With little atmosphere, there is only a little pressure, which sophisticated life forms such as humans need to keep blood from boiling. (Remember what happened to the characters of the movie "Total Recall" when they encountered the surface of Mars)!

We know, however, that there are life forms on earth which can survive in very harsh environments.

In the past, liquid water flowed on the surface of Mars. With a liquid water habitat and a thicker atmosphere, life may have once thrived. More exploration of Mars is needed to determine if life was once present there.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Traveling Nitrogen is a fun group game appropriate for the classroom. Players follow nitrogen atoms through living and nonliving parts of the nitrogen cycle. For grades 5-9.

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

The possible discovery of Life on Mars

In July, 1996 a team of scientists said that they had discovered possible fossils of bacteria in a meteorite named ALH84001 that came from Mars. It was found in Antarctica in 1984 after having landed there...more

Phoenix Mars Lander - Instruments and Mission Objectives

NASA has a new spaceship on Mars. The robot is called the Phoenix Mars Lander. Phoenix landed near the North Pole on Mars. This page tells about the mission of Phoenix. It also describes the instruments...more

Life in the Atacama Desert

The Atacama Desert is in Chile in South America. It is one of the driest places on Earth. Somehow a few kinds of plants, animals, and microbes are able to live there. Even some people live and work in...more

Can there be Life in the Environment of Jupiter?

Jupiter's atmospheric environment is one of powerful winds, going 250 miles per hour, and temperatures from -270 degrees to +32 degrees (freezing temperature). These winds make it hard for life forms to...more

The Environment of Saturn

Saturn's atmospheric environment is one of powerful winds, going 250 miles per hour, and temperatures from -270 degrees to +80 degrees. With winds like these, it is hard to have peace and quiet. The region...more

Can there be Life in the Environment of Titan?

The air of Titan is a lot like the Earth's, except that it is very cold, from -330 degrees to -290 degrees! Like the Earth, there is a lot of Nitrogen and other complex molecules. There also may be an...more

Autotrophs

Organisms that are able to "make their own food" are called autotrophs, meaning "self-feeders". Some examples of autotrophs are plants and algae (shown in the picture). Both plants and algae use photosynthesis...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA