There is no shortage of surprises and secrets on Mars as the red planet slowly but surely reveals more about itself.
A new study on the red planet claims that if the assumptions that there is briny water just below the Martian surface, there is a possibility that it would hold enough oxygen molecules that can support organic life.
Scientists have said that such theoretical life could be simple animals like sponges, or even perhaps tiny oxygen-breathing microbes.
“Oxygen is a key ingredient when determining the habitability of an environment, but it is relatively scarce on Mars,” said Woody Fischer, a Caltech geobiologist, in a statement.
There can be an unexpectedly high amount of oxygen in Martian water in regions where the elevations are low and where the temperatures are also low, researchers claim to have discovered. They stressed that the projected amount of water there would be over and above the minimum that is required for oxygen-breathing life to survive in the oceans of the Earth currently.
“Nobody ever thought that the concentrations of dissolved oxygen needed for (oxygen-breathing life) could theoretically exist on Mars,” said study lead author Vlada Stamenković, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The new revelation poses a straight forward challenge to the earlier established and standard scientific opinion that Mars does not have suitable places where there can be chances of life evolving. And the any notion that oxygen could be present in Mars have so far been brushed away by scientists because the atmosphere of the planet that bears the closest resemblance to Earth is about 160 times thinner than that on Earth and is comprised mostly of carbon dioxide. Therefore, scientists believed that even if there is existence of water on Mars – which is not yet a certainty, there it would not be sufficient to evolve and support life as it is on Earth.
But the new discovery and revelations seemingly pose a very strong challenge to that theory.
And the concentrations would be “particularly high in polar regions” if the oxygen-rich water does exist on Mars.
Stamenković said that this discovery can be helpful for future Mars missions because it would give the rovers a better target to look for and search for signs of life – whether in the past or at present and of habitable environments for life to exist.
The study was published Monday in Nature Geoscience, a peer-reviewed British journal..
This study was published in close proximity to another discovery related to Mars earlier this summer where researchers claimed that they had detected a lake of salty water under the idce on the planet.. The discovery also raised the possibility of finding life on the Red Planet.
(Adapted from USAToday.com)