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What lifeform could live on Jupiter or Mars?

Before we answer that question, let's ask another. What conditions are needed for life? As a living being, you should be able to answer that question! First, you need to breathe something. Next, you need to have something to eat and drink. Finally, you need to live in an environment that's not too hot or too cold to live.

As far as we know, no life exists on either Jupiter or Mars. At least not anything like ourselves. However, if life were to exist on either of these planets, what kind of life would it be?

Jupiter is a rather violent planet that has really severe storms and no solid surface. Its surface temperature is a chilly -110C! If life did exist here, it would have to live in the upper atmosphere. The lifeform would have to breathe hydrogen or helium. It would have to eat other chemicals, such as methane or ammonia. Any lifeform on Jupiter would be totally different from anything we see here on Earth!

Mars is more likely to have life that is similar to ours here on Earth. Mars' atmosphere is much thinner than ours and consists of mainly carbon dioxide. Its surface temperature is -60C. The only water that exists on Mars is in its North polar cap. Martian soil is unable to support life, since it has less organic matter in it than the Moon's surface. If life did exist here, it would probably live under the frozen Northern polar cap. Here tiny little pieces of life called "microbes" could live,eat, and breathe.

These microbes could be much like microbes that live right here on Earth. In frigid Antarctica, millions and millions of microbes live under the polar cap. In fact, in recent months there has been much debate as to whether life did exist on Mars long ago. We'll just have to wait and see...in the mean time, use your imagination!

To learn more about possible life on other planets, read Cosmos by Carl Sagan. To learn more about weird life that lives in Earth's southern polar cap, read Water, Ice, and Stone by Green.

Submitted by Mike (Wisconsin, USA)
(February 2, 1998)



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