Conditions on Mars are harsh. Its atmosphere is made up mostly of carbon dioxide and is 100 times thinner than Earth’s. Temperatures on the surface can plummet to minus-126 degrees Celsius. But the environment below the Martian surface may be similar to our own planet and may hold all the major elements required for life, some scientists say.
Does life still exist on Mars, even today? And if it does, could it somehow be related to life on Earth?
These are questions that many planetary scientists, astrophysicists and others interested in the emerging field of astrobiology are asking.
In the quest for answers, a team of scientists from MIT, Harvard University, Caltech, Brown University and Massachusetts General Hospital in the United States have proposed a new method for determining whether life on Earth could have originated on Mars, or vice versa. These researchers have developed a DNA sequencing microchip that can detect and decode RNA and DNA sequences in microbes harvested from alien environments, such as those that exist on Mars. RNA and DNA are clear and unmistakable indicators of life, and if microbes examined on both planets demonstrate certain commonalities is could reveal surprising secrets about how life truly evolved in our solar system.