An example of bacteria
Click on image for full size
Microbes Could Live on Mars!
News story originally written on September 4, 2002
Researchers have found tiny organisms that could survive the low atmospheric pressures of Mars. They are not actually Martians but are called methanogens and live here on Earth.
Because methanogens are very small, they are called microorganisms or microbes. They are members of a very ancient group of bacteria called Archaebacteria that are closely related to the first life on Earth. Methanogens thrive where there is no oxygen and live in places like swamps, sewage and even in our guts.
To see whether these organisms would be able to survive in a Martian environment, researchers put the methanogen bacteria into an Andromeda chamber where the pressure could be reduced to simulate the conditions on Mars. Despite the extreme environment, the little critters survived and grew!
Life like this may exist today below the surface of Mars where an underground ocean of ice sits, or creatures like these might have lived on Mars in the past.
The methanogens produce methane, a greenhouse gas that could warm the surface of Mars, so bacteria from Earth could one day be taken to Mars if we were to tereform the planet, creating an environment where we could survive. This is a very controversial idea, because altering the environment of Mars could harm life that might already be there.
Last modified September 4, 2002 by Lisa Gardiner.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology
, rocks and minerals
, and Earth system science
You might also be interested in:
This page is the start of the tour which explores water on Mars. Use the navigation button at the top of the page to move through the tour. To go to the next page, just press the forward link on the navigation...more
It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more
The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 2:19 p.m. EST, October 29th. The sky was clear and the weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit for the Unitied...more
A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more
Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials are demanding an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting...more
During a period of about two days in early May, 1998, the ACE spacecraft was immersed in plasma associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME). The SWICS instrument on ACE, which determines unambiguously...more
J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service has referred to forests as the "heart and lungs of the world." Forests reduce soil erosion, maintain water quality, contribute to atmospheric humidity and cloud...more