|Actinobacteria (Electron Micrograph by GrahamColm)|
There could very well be life on Mars already. How do we know? We sent it there.
We're not talking secret human missions, we're talking extremophiles. These are microbes that are capable of surviving the very harshest of earthly circumstances.
When Curiosity was sent to Mars, some microbes undoubtedly went along for the ride. NASA microbiologist Kasthuri Venkateswaren has already verified that these “passengers” included “lots of Actinobacteria and Alphaproteobacteria,” plus various others.
Will these stowaways have the fortitude to survive the journey? We have no way yet of ascertaining that. However, NASA’s “rigorous cleaning and decontamination” of Curiosity before the launch “inadvertently selected for the kind of microorganisms that don’t mind high radiation, extreme aridity, and low nutrient levels.”
Therefore, we might already be colonizing Mars with these tiny critters. Will they eventually be potent enough to turn the red planet green?
Time will hopefully tell.
Copyright October 11, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke All Rights Reserved