Conditions on early Mars were suitable for the appearance of RNA, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say. According to planetary scientist Angel Mohallo, an RNA chain could have appeared on Mars 4 billion years ago, its study was published on the bioRxiv service.
Today, scientists cannot conclusively say whether life is possible on Mars and whether it ever existed on this planet. At the same time, planetologists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology believe that on Mars 4 billion years ago there were conditions for the appearance of ribonucleic acid – a prototype of DNA – deoxyribonucleic acid.
In his study, Angel Mohallo combined all the data on the early atmosphere of Mars, its chemical composition, the concentration of prebiotic significant metals and the possible aquatic environment, which, according to many hypotheses, existed on Mars. In addition, data from orbital missions were also included in this model.
“Then we experimentally determine the methods of RNA development that are caused by metal-catalyzed hydrolysis, and evaluate whether early Mars could be favorable for the accumulation of long-lived RNA polymers”.
During the experiment, a group of scientists created solutions of metals – iron, magnesium, manganese and several acids – that are found in Martian soil, and added water to it. Scientists found that RNA was the most stable in slightly acidic waters with a pH of about 5.4, with a high concentration of magnesium ions being a prerequisite. The environments that would support these conditions are very similar to Martian volcanic basalts.
Moreover, it is likely that Martian conditions were more neutral, respectively, the pH content was 3.2 – with such a content, RNA would decompose much faster.
Scientists note that the results of their research cannot prove that RNA existed on Mars. However, experiments show that for this all conditions could exist, therefore it is impossible to exclude the hypothesis of evolution on this planet.