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Surviving Mars

May 24, 2006

Where should scientists look for life on Mars?


Making Mars on Earth. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Could anything survive the extreme conditions of Mars? That’s the question posed by astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch of Washington State University. He and a student took two hardy microbes from Earth and subjected them to low pressure, low temperature, and UV radiation. Amazingly, they were able to survive these Mars-like conditions when buried in soil or floating in water. And, Schulze explains, Martian organisms would be much better adapted to live on Mars than these microbes.

DIRK SCHULZE-MAKUCH (Washington State University):
So if you can show that some organisms on Earth can survive these conditions, you can assume that any Martian organism is much better at doing that.

These results suggest that future missions to Mars should drill deep underground to look for life. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.