Feeds

Earth bacteria could invade Mars

But not very effectively

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Earth-bugs might just be able to survive on Mars, according to new research, although the circumstances do have to be perfect.

The research team from the University of Florida warns that at least one type of earthly bacteria could survive long enough to hitch a ride to the red planet, and leave a biological signature in the Martian soil. Any future missions hunting for life on Mars will need to take care to distinguish between Martian life, and any possible alien invaders, the researchers say.

The general consensus is that the hard UV exposure on Mars would be sufficient to kill most forms of Earth bacteria. In fact laboratory tests show that five minutes of exposure to ultra-violet light at Martian levels is enough to kill even the most resilient of bacterial species: the blue-green algae Chroococcidiopsis sp. 029.

But if the bacteria is protected by just one millimetre of Martian soil, it could survive for at least 24 hours. If the conditions are just right, the bacteria could even grow, although this is much less likely. The Martian environment is quite horrible for Earth life, and the low temperatures, low pressures and aridity do not make for comfy conditions.

The study also found that signs of life, such as Chlorophyll and some enzyme activity, will persist for hours, and perhaps much longer, after the bacteria have died. Since the search for life on Mars will look for these very indicators, mission planners will have to gather other supporting evidence for life, if they are to be sure of what they have found. ®

Related stories

Buzz Aldrin takes giant leap into kids' books
Europe will land on Mars in 2013
Frozen sea on Mars hints at alien life

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.