Could any known, living organisms on Earth survive on Mars?

  • No life has been discovered outside of Earth (yet?), but do we know if anything that would be considered "living" on Earth could conquer Mars? (or maybe Venus?)

    With the Mars One project on the way, I was wondering if it was possible to transplant some of Earth's life to Mars, and if something could survive there (naturally).

    Many kinds of life are based on air and sun. Animals have to breathe oxygen, plants need the sun, and both need water. But there are many other kinds of life on Earth, like:

    • Very deep seawater life that lives under high pressure and without sunlight,

    • extremophile organisms that live in very hot water,

    • weird "arsenic life" which was debunked as being fully arsenic-based, but turned out to be something different...

    Have there been any theories or studies about unusual forms of life on Earth that might survive on Mars?

    I'll add as a side note that even if there were Earth life that could survive on Mars, we probably wouldn't want to send them to Mars yet because it might complicate our research to find if Mars currently has its own form of life.

    I think this would probably depend on exactly WHERE on Mars you want to deposit the lifeforms. Mars's lack of a strong magnetosphere allows a lot of radiation to get through, so even if they could handle the atmosphere and the temperature, they might die from that. But I'd imagine that some deep-soil or ice-based bacteria could survive on Mars, where they'd be shielded from the radiation and the atmosphere difference would be moot. That being said, I don't have any specific data for you, (hence my adding this as a comment instead of an answer).

    Surface or subsurface? Pressure builds rapidly as you pile on dirt and rock. Temperature moderates, then increases. I don't think we know the pH or temperature of martian brine deposits more than a couple inches down. Likely there is some *some* energy souce suitable for growies; perhaps chlorate, rather than oxygen as the final electron acceptor:

    Living Earth organisms have survived on the Moon, so why not on Mars ? That's why there are planetary protection programs.

  • dotancohen

    dotancohen Correct answer

    8 years ago

    The most likely candidate would be the Tardigrade. These little guys handle vacuum and radiation just fine. So long as water is provided, according to tests done in LEO the Tardigrade would survive on Mars. Even if they do dehydrate, they spring back to life once water is provided again.

    Thank you for this very interesting answer. I'll wait for other answers, hoping to get a longer list, maybe studies etc. If I don't get any, I'll accept your answer.

    No problem! I'm also hoping to see some other interesting answers.

    Tardigrades can't really be a candidate for a first colonist in my view, because _tardigrade food_ (like plants or bacteria) would have to be established there first.

    @RemcoGerlich: The question was about surviving on Mars, not about first colonists. For any colony, one would need to transplant an ecosystem and not "just a few organisms and the things that they eat", that question is far, far outside the scope of this question.

    @dotancohen The question mentions "conquering" Mars.

    @RemcoGerlich: You are right! That is an interesting usage of the word "conquering" and you might want to ask the OP for clarification. By all measures, I do believe that I've already conquered Mars and I don't see anybody sending flags to challenge my assertion!

    I'd also like to point out that, as per the wikipedia article, *tardigrades aren't extremophiles*. They don't thrive and reproduce in extreme environments, they merely endure them. If you implant a number of Tardigrades on Mars' surface and come back a year later, all you'll see is the same number of sleeping tardigrades.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM

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