Image: National Geographic

In the latest study, it was discovered that the chances of life on Mars are even more diminished than ever before. It was found that the surface of the Red Planet contains a deadly chemical called ‘Toxic Cocktail’ that can wipe out living organisms.

‘Toxic Cocktail’ is formed due to the thin Martian atmosphere which allows ultraviolet radiations to react with the chemical compound present on the surface called perchlorate. This creates a deadly Environment.

The perchlorate was first discovered on the surface of the Mars in 1970 in an experiment performed by NASA in which their Viking Landers were launched to Mars. Several other experiments have also proved this fact. The perchlorates are toxic to human life. The scientists experimented with the compounds that are found in the Martian soil and was discovered that bacteria grow vigorously​ in the presence of perchlorates, it uses them as energy. A common bacteria Bacillus Subtilis in normal Mars condition only survived for an hour in the experiment but when this compound bathes with ultraviolet light, they turn into potent bactericides and the test tube was sterilized with bacteria within 30 seconds. This proves that the upper layer of the planet is sterilized with the bacteria.

This revelation suggests that we should dig deep into the underground and look out for life where it is protected from harmful radiation and ‘Toxic Cocktail’. The most accommodating condition may lie deep down underneath few meters.

Nasa has planned to launch a mission in July 2020 to explore Mars. They will launch a rover namely ExoMars Rover that will explore the dusty landscape and will also dig down three to two meters to search out any life forms existing underneath. “At those depths, it’s possible Martian life may survive,” reported Jennifer Wadsworth, at Edinburgh University. It was first suspected that perchlorates were toxic for bacterias found on the surface but in a theory, it shows that it somehow uses it as a source of energy. This brings up the possibility that Aliens may similarly be thriving on Mars.

The scientist then conducted another round of experiment with iron oxides and hydrogen peroxides, these two toxic compounds are also found on Mars. This experiment showed even worst results for microbial organisms. In presence of hydrogen peroxide​and iron oxide, these bactericides were killed 11 times faster than perchlorates alone. There’s a possibility that an extremophile bacterium may survive in the presence of these two toxic components. The common Bacillus subtilis is not an extremophile. The bactericides may have also adapted to the Martian environment and might be much stronger extremophile than those found on Earth.

Jennifer Wadsworth reported to Popular Science: “Life can survive very extreme environments, The bacterial model we tested wasn’t an extremophile so it’s not out of the question that hardier life forms would find a way to survive.”

The scientists are continuously researching on finding life outside the Earth. They are experimenting on ways to survive and adapt to the atmosphere of other planets to suspect if there is a possibility to live life there.