life on mars

Tardigrades: we’re now polluting the moon with near indestructible little creatures

Tardigrades: we’re now polluting the moon with near indestructible little creatures

An Israeli spacecraft called Beresheet almost made it to the moon in April. It took a selfie with the lunar surface in the background, but then lost contact with Earth and presumably crashed onto the lunar surface. Now it’s been revealed that the mission was carrying a cargo of dehydrated microscopic lifeforms known as tardigrades.

Pictures from Curiosity Show the Bottom of an Ancient Lake on Mars, the Perfect Place to Search for Evidence of Past Life

Pictures from Curiosity Show the Bottom of an Ancient Lake on Mars, the Perfect Place to Search for Evidence of Past Life

It’s all about the detail.

In a way, Mars looks like a dusty, dead, dry, boring planet. But science says otherwise. Science says that Mars used to be wet and warm, with an atmosphere. And science says that it was wet and warm for billions of years, easily long enough for life to appear and develop.

Where Does Mars’ Methane Go? New Study Provides Possible Answer, with Implications in the Search for Life.

Where Does Mars’ Methane Go? New Study Provides Possible Answer, with Implications in the Search for Life.

For centuries, scientists have speculated about the existence of life on Mars. But it was only within the past 15 years that the search for life (past and present) really began to heat up. It was at this time that methane, an organic molecule that is associated with many forms of life here on Earth (i.e. a “biosignature”) was detected in Mars’ atmosphere.

Curiosity Sniffs a Spike in Methane. Could it be a Sign of Life?

Curiosity Sniffs a Spike in Methane. Could it be a Sign of Life?

Since it landed on Mars in 2012, one of the main scientific objectives of the Curiosity rover has been finding evidence of past (or even present) life on the Red Planet. In 2014, the rover may have accomplished this very thing when it detected a tenfold increase in atmospheric methane in its vicinity and found traces of complex organic molecules in drill samples while poking around in the Gale Crater.

Sponges from Mars? Study suggests water on the red planet could support life

Sponges from Mars? Study suggests water on the red planet could support life

Mars has long been thought of as dry and barren – unable to harbour life. But research over the past few years indicates that there is most likely some briny water present there today, including a possible subsurface lake. This has led to new hopes that there could actually be life on the red planet after all, depending on what the conditions are like in the water.

Back in June, NASA revealed two mind-blowing facts: that there is organic matter on Mars, and that levels of methane in the planet’s atmosphere ebb and flow over time. It’s pretty exciting news that shook our understanding of astrobiology. And while this isn’t necessarily proof that aliens are out there, much of our terrestrial methane was produced by living things. And as any child can tell you, if you smelled it, someone must have dealt it.

What on Earth could live in a salt water lake on Mars? An expert explains

What on Earth could live in a salt water lake on Mars? An expert explains

Tantalizing new evidence has suggested that there may be a salty lake below a glacier on Mars. While brine at freezing temperatures does not sound like the most hospitable of environments, it is difficult to resist pondering whether organic life could survive – or even make some kind of living – there

Curiosity has lasted more than 2,000 days on mars, triple its original mission plan

Curiosity has lasted more than 2,000 days on mars, triple its original mission plan

On August 5th, 2012, after spending over 8 months in space, NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars. As part of the NASA Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, and the latest in a series of rovers deployed to the Martian surface, Curiosity had some rather ambitious research goals. In addition to investigating Mars’ climate and geology, the rover was also tasked with revealing more about Mars’ past and determining if it ever supported microbial life.

Our rover could discover life on Mars – here’s what it would take to prove it

Our rover could discover life on Mars – here’s what it would take to prove it

Finding past or present microbial life on Mars would without doubt be one of the greatest scientific discoveries of all time. And in just two years’ time, there’s a big opportunity to do so, with two rovers launching there to look for signs of life – Mars2020 by NASA and ExoMars by the European Space Agency and Roscosmos.

This Martian Discovery Could Hold Clues to Origins of Life on Earth

This Martian Discovery Could Hold Clues to Origins of Life on Earth

While there are many competing theories for the origins of life on Earth, a recent discovery on Mars is giving researchers insight into early Earth conditions. Deep-water hydrothermal Martian deposits may have provided the environment necessary for hosting life.

Some earth life is ready to live on Mars, right now

Some earth life is ready to live on Mars, right now

For some time, scientists have suspected that life may have existed on Mars in the deep past. Owing to the presence of a thicker atmosphere and liquid water on its surface, it is entirely possible that the simplest of organisms might have begun to evolve there. And for those looking to make Mars a home for humanity someday, it is hoped that these conditions (i.e favorable to life) could be recreated again someday.

Martian Mineral Point Towards Past Habitability

Martian Mineral Point Towards Past Habitability

For over a year, the Curiosity rover has been making its way up the slopes of Mount Sharp, the central peak within the Gale Crater. As the rover moves higher along this formation, it has been taking drill samples so that it might look into Mars’ ancient past. Combined with existing evidence that water existed within the crater, this would have provided favorable conditions for microbial life.

How our discovery of microbe traces in ancient rocks on Earth could help us find life on Mars

How our discovery of microbe traces in ancient rocks on Earth could help us find life on Mars

One of the most tantalising questions in science is whether there is or ever has been life on Mars, at least in microbial form. But despite plenty of effort – including orbiting missions and even rovers that have analysed its red rocks and soil – we have so far not managed to detect any conclusively.

Do no harm to life on Mars? Ethical limits of the ‘Prime Directive’

Do no harm to life on Mars? Ethical limits of the ‘Prime Directive’

NASA’s chief scientist recently announced that “…we’re going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we’re going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 NASA’s chief scientist recently announced that “…we’re going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we’re going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years.” Such a discovery would clearly rank as one of the most important in human history and immediately open up a series of complex social and moral questions. One of the most profound concerns is about the moral status of extraterrestrial life forms. Since humanities scholars are only just now beginning to think critically about these kinds of post-contact questions, naïve positions are common.

How the ExoMars mission could sniff out life on Mars – and what to do next

How the ExoMars mission could sniff out life on Mars – and what to do next

“It (could be) life Jim, but (perhaps) not as we know it.” This is not just a sci-fi catchphrase, but also something some planetary scientists have uttered in response to the discovery of methane in Mars' atmosphere. That’s right – scientists believe that some kind of past or present microbial lifeform on Mars could have produced the methane. While it is far from the only possible explanation, it is actually so plausible that a special mission is being sent there to find out.