At a conference titled "The Present-Day Habitability of Mars" scientists discussed the possible seasonal existence of liquid water as well as the survival tactics of Antarctic microbes, among other topics.
Scientists attending a UCLA conference titled “The Present-Day Habitability of Mars” presented several theories that support the possible existence of microbial Martian life right now. One theory, based on mounting evidence, suggests the presence of liquid water during certain seasons at specific Martian sites. Another theory is based on experiments done with microbes living in Antarctic valleys and other cold, dry locations. Antarctic microbes are also exposed to higher doses of ultraviolet radiation. “[The] organisms dwell within rocks, just deep enough to be shielded from the worst of the UV but close enough to the surface to receive the benefits of photosynthesis. Something similar might be happening on Mars today, if life ever evolved there.“
What’s the Big Idea?
One common belief among scientists and others is that if Mars ever had life, it probably existed in the distant past, when the surface would have been warmer and possibly able to support liquid water on a regular basis. The mission of the Curiosity rover involves searching for evidence of this possible past life. However, the theories presented at the conference, held earlier this month, could help Curiosity locate “real live” life, so to speak.