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Mars: We may have killed the only life form on this planet

Mars: We may have killed the only life form on this planet

In an ancient experiment, Viking rovers added water to soil samples from Mars. Maybe it was a bad idea, that's why

In the mid-1970s, NASA sent two Viking landers to the surface of Mars. They are equipped with instruments that allow the only experiments ever conducted on another planet. The results of these tests were truly confusing at the time, and remain so today. At the time, scientists had little knowledge about the Martian environment. Given that Earth is a water-rich planet, it seemed plausible that adding water could lead to the emergence of life in Mars' extremely dry environment. In hindsight, this approach could have been wrong.

Results of the Viking experiment on Mars

On Earth, there are microbes that live inside salty rocks. These objects exploit a process called HygroscopicityThrough which it attracts water directly from the humidity of the air. That's why the microbes living inside the salt rocks in the Atacama (Chile) don't need rain, they only need a certain amount of moisture in the atmosphere.

Marty Viking 1
Robotic arm Viking lands 1 It is used to explore and collect samples of Martian soil for analysis. Credit: NASA

Now let's ask ourselves what would happen if we poured water on these microbes. Will they die? Technically we can say we are Over-hydrationBut in simple terms it would be like drowning them. It would be like if an alien spaceship found you wandering half-dead in the desert and your would-be rescuers decided, “Humans need water. Let's put the guy in the middle of the ocean to save him!” That wouldn't work much either. From the Vikings' experiences It involves applying water to soil samples, which may explain the negative results in the search for microbial life on Mars. Perhaps the alleged Martian microbes collected for experiments could not tolerate this amount of water and died after a while.

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