The possibility of extraterrestrial life on Mars has been a topic that has puzzled astronomers for decades.
However, despite the best efforts of the scientific community, no evidence of past or present life on Mars has been found.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not there, many experts have concluded.
There may be several ways that evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars could elude us.
Life could be hiding beneath the surface
A recent study showed that we need to look deeper beneath the surface of Mars to find traces of life.
That’s because any traces of amino acids left over from a time when Mars was possibly habitable are likely buried at least 6.6 feet underground.
Scientists are looking for amino acids because of their role in forming life as we know it, according to the Scripps Research Institute.
Amino acids, which can be made by life and by non-biological chemistry, are a key component in the construction of vital proteins.
And because Mars has no magnetic field, its surface is exposed to powerful cosmic rays that destroy amino acids.
“Our results suggest that cosmic rays are destroying amino acids in the rocks and regoliths of the Martian surface much faster than previously thought,” said Alexander Pavlov of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
“Current Mars rover missions drill down to about two inches. At these depths, it would only take 20 million years to completely destroy amino acids.”
Given this new research, a new strategy is required when drilling flat surfaces with rovers like Perservenace or Curiosity.
Life can exist in ways we don’t yet realize
NASA scientist Dr. Moogega Cooper discussed life on Mars with Talks at Google in April.
When asked if she believed Mars had or had life, Cooper’s response was affirmative.
She said, “Did there used to be water on Mars? Yes. Does Mars have interesting chemistry that could potentially host or sustain life? Yes.”
For these reasons alone, Cooper implies that we cannot rule out the possibility that life once existed on the Red Planet.
NASA has also not completely ruled out the existence of life on Mars or other planets.
Maybe it’s just life that we don’t understand yet.
Cooper notes that microbes can exist in extremely harsh environments on Earth, and the same could be said for Mars.
If we find life, Cooper’s next job would be making sure Earth is safe when a sample is brought back here.
She told Talks at Google: “We hope that one day we can bring samples back to our own planet and you need to make the same thought.
“If you’re bringing something back, you don’t want to bring anything that might be harmful to people.
This story originally appeared on the sun and is reproduced here with permission