Mars

Alien life on Mars might look like something here on Earth

There are a number of ways conditions on Mars can kill life as we know it, but researchers have found at least one tiny species that can survive the Red Planet’s wild temperature swings, lack of oxygen and very low atmospheric pressure.

If there is some form of life that’s living, right now, on both Mars and here on Earth, it just might be the microscopic methanogen M. formicicum, which is a methane-producing microorganism that can be found in the guts of some cows, among many other places on Earth.

Researchers from the University of Arkansas subjected different species of methanogens to temperature swings between minus-80 and plus-22 degrees Celsius (112 degrees below zero to 71 degrees above Fahrenheit) like they might experience over a 48-hour period on Mars.

“The freeze-thaw cycling had little to no effect on the growth of this organism,” Rebecca Mickol, a former graduate student at the Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences, said in a statement. “It didn’t die. Some cells may have, but considering the amount of methane produced afterward, there were surviving methanogens.”

Mickol is co-author of new research on the new findings published in the journal Planetary and Space Science.

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