1.1 What is Mars?
Life on Mars is a matter that has drawn the attention of scientists for research. Mars is a planet that is situated next to earth. It is the fourth planet from the sun and is also referred to as the Red Planet. Images and evidence obtained by scientists confirm that there are water and oxygen on Mars. Although, at the moment, there is no life on the planet, scientists are hopeful for the possibility of life in it (Gill & Nunez, 2017).
1.2 Significance about finding life on Mars
Finding life on Mars would be significant since it would prove that the planet can sustain the life of any living organism. Finding life on Mars would also be substantial in accommodating other humans to reduce the population on earth. Scientists have not only focused on investigating life on Mars but also investigated other planets. For instance, scientists have investigated life in Jupiter (NASA, 2015).
1.3 Comparison to other planets
Compared to other planets, Mars is considered the best because Mars and Earth had too much in common during their infancy. Lakes and rivers were on their surfaces, and volcanoes erupted on the plains of the two planets. This indicated that there is a likelihood of life on Mars, which has drawn attention to investigate life on Mars (Webster et al., 2015).
1.4 Definition of life
Essentially life refers to the state that is characterized by the capability of getting and using energy, reproducing, growing as well as responding to change.
1.5 Historical context, people’s perception and scientific thinking about life on Mars
Initially, nobody believed that there was life on Mars. Over the past years, scientists using satellites as well as spacecraft, have gathered information regarding the possibility of life on Mars. Scientists currently believe that there is a possibility of life on Mars.
1.6 Statement of aim
Therefore, this paper will discuss on whether there is life on Mars.
Fig.1 Satellite image for Mars (Source: solarsystem.nasa.gov/internal_resources/384)
2. Can Mars Support Life?
Oxygen is the main gas that supports living things. Mars contains molecular traces of oxygen. The Earth, Venus, and Mars atmospheres were by the same mechanism, and both of them possess the same planetary composition. According to the study, salty water near its surface or could be having enough oxygen. It was identified that some regions in mars have brined with large amounts of dissolved oxygen. The minuscule amount of oxygen is produced when carbon dioxide interacts with radiation from the sin of Mars. According to the surveillance, brines will absorb oxygen when the temperature is low, and air pressure is high (NASA, 2019). It was proved from these results that mars could sustain a liquid environment with dissolved oxygen. The concentration of oxygen is high in brines present at Polar Regions where temperatures are cooler. This was done through computer modeling.
Evidence from the study shows that 3 to 4 billion years back, Mars was warm enough to spur flowing and rainstorm water which would freeze shortly. This proved as evidence that life may have established on mars planet. The warm temperatures made it more probable that life could independently have been formed and show liquid water present (Perez, 2016). Scientist have found findings that mars had a period of flowing surface water and rainstorms which were followed by temperatures that caused frizzing of water
The table of temperature on Mars (Table.1) produced by Centro de Astrobiology, Mars Weather, NASA Quest, and Space daily illustrates the temperature on the surface of Mars. In terms of the information we know now, the surface temperature of Mars can range from −153 °C (120 K; −243 °F) to 20 °C (293 K; 68 °F) (Nelson, 2019). This evidence proved that the temperature on Mars is too extreme for the human to live directly on.
Table.1 Temperature on Mars (Source: Centro de Astrobiology, Mars Weather, NASA Quest, Space daily)
Then how can we determine if Mars allows us to live on it? The critical point is to discover the implications of the evidence for life on Mars. Firstly, we need to explore and study the types of life-forms possible on Mars (NASA, n.d.). Once we get the information about what kind of living things can survive on Mars, we can study those types of living forms, so that humanity may survive just like them.
Mars has evidence that oceans and rivers may have been present from the observations. Liquid water flows from warm slopes and steep on the martial surface. The availability of hydrated salt from slopes proves that water plays an essential part. Research shows there are water deposits that are trapped in the ice caps at the south and north poles of Mars (NASA, 2015). Frozen water is also present lying beneath the surface. European space Agencies captured images of sheets ice from the bottoms of craters, and this suggests that liquid water pools under better conditions (Taylor et al., 2016). Evidence for water came to light from the appearance of gullies that shows the origin of liquid.
The trajectory of life is expected to have undergone some changes dictated by the change in surroundings and theoretical grounds. Most of the organisms never changed due to the lack of change in the environment. Mars shows gross stability and radical change; hence, it affects evolutionary trajectory at various times in life on mars (Gill & Nunez, 2017). Earlier stage of evolution shows that there was oxygen present for support of some oxidative metabolism that could have been available. Photographs and chemotropism had evolved at the ancestral Martian margins bodies of water while the planet was cooling down, and water is frizzing below ice sheets (NASA, 2016). There is the emergence of some of the ecosystems that resemble that are available on Earth during the early Proterozoic and late Achean.
3. The ongoing search for life
To prove that life did exist on Mars, we need more compelling evidence. The most convincing way to find out if there is life in an unknown place is to find the imprint left by the life activities of that place (NASA, 2015). For example, footprints, hideouts, or fossils. At present, human has not landed on Mars in a real sense, only the Mars probe launched from the Earth can observe the surface of Mars, and there is no definite evidence that fossils and footprints have been found. However, scientists do found some minerals, which may contain microorganisms. Below is a microscopic photograph of a meteorite called “ALH-77005”, where the arrow points, shows evidence that microbes once appeared (NASA, n.d.)
Fig.2 image of meteorite ALH-77005 (Source: Open Astronomy, 2019)
On July 30th 1976, the Labeled Release (LR) life detection experiment was conducted
On July 30th, 1976, the Labeled Release (LR) life detection experiment was conducted by NASA, whereby the LR gave positive outcomes, which were supported by five different controls. The data curves confirmed microbial respiration occurring on Mars (Perez, 2016). These curves obtained from Mars were the same as those produced by soil LR experiments on earth.
In In-situ exploration, autonomous planetary mobility is utilized in allowing rovers, balloons as well as airplanes in making decisions as well as avoiding hazards. For collecting images, ICER wavelet-based image compressor is used. This is because it is capable of taking images of 12 megabits then compress them into one megabit. Meteorite ALH-77005 was discovered in 1977 in Antarctica by the National Institute of Polar Research Mission of Japan. By comparison, scientists found that argon found in meteorites was identical to that detected by Mars rovers, so that they concluded that this meteorite came from Mars and continue to investigate it (Nelson, 2019). They looked at part of the meteorite under a microscope and found that microorganisms probably caused the lines on it. A microorganism is a kind of organism that cannot be recognized by naked eyes. We cannot see it, but it is life, life on Mars. This is the way scientists used to find evidence of life on Mars in the past. From this evidence, scientists observed that there was a life that appeared on Mars in the form of microorganisms.
3.3 Working on exploration
Scientists have made great efforts to explore Mars. There are many probes launched from the earth to Mars. Although some of them have failed to reach the surface of Mars because of technology or unexpected magnetic fields, the successful probes have provided a convenient way for humans to explore Mars. With the progress of science and technology, Mars detectors developed by humans are becoming more and more precise and powerful (Anderson, 2019). We can have more information about Mars than ever before. Recently, NASA’s Curiosity Rover finds an ancient oasis on Mars (NASA,2019). Although this oasis is so old that it was already dried up, scientists still can deduce that there was water in millions of years before. This further proves that Mars has the resources to keep organisms alive. In 2020, NASA’s Mars Exploration Program will send another prob. This prob will be responsible for long-term research on Mars, including experiments to produce oxygen from the atmosphere of Mars mentioned earlier (Perez, 2016). This is of great significance for a human to explore the existence of life on Mars and to study whether human beings can survive on Mars. If we succeed in this experiment, we can take another big step in our understanding of Mars (NASA, n.d.). We may even hope to develop ways of living on Mars in the future, meaning that the plot for living on Mars in science fiction is no longer a fantasy. The significance of this is that it will help to reduce the population pressure that is present on earth.
To sum up, finding life on Mars has been of great concern among scientists. The main focus of this paper was to discuss whether there is life on Mars. Compared to other planets, Mars is considered the best because Mars and Earth had too much in common during their infancy. Lakes and rivers were on their surfaces, and volcanoes erupted on the plains of the two planets. This indicated that there is a likelihood of life on Mars, which has drawn attention to investigate life on Mars. Compelling evidence has been presented by scientists to prove that there is life on Mars. This evidence is in the form of footprints, hideouts, or fossils. The availability of sophisticated technologies has facilitated scientists’ exploration of Mars. These technologies have enabled scientists to gather evidence that shows the probabilities of the presence of life on Mars. Given the evidence obtained from Mars exploration, it can be deduced that there is a possibility for life on Mars.