Life could exist under the surface of Mars

Research by New York University in Abu Dhabi suggests that life may exist on Mars, but it should be sought not on the surface, but at a depth of about two meters. The text of the work was published in Scientific Reports.

A new study by astrophysicist Dimitar Atri of New York University’s Space Science Center has shown that conditions beneath the surface of Mars are livable. According to Atri, the influence of penetrating galactic cosmic rays (GCR) could provide the energy needed for organic activity. This surface has never been explored by scientists.

There is more and more data indicating the presence of an aquatic environment on ancient Mars – this raises the question of the possibility of the existence of a life-supporting environment on the planet. The scientist suggests that the erosion of the Martian atmosphere has led to dramatic changes in its climate: surface waters have disappeared, living spaces on the planet have shrunk, and only a limited amount of water remains near the surface in the form of brines and water-ice sediments. Life on the planet, if it ever existed, would have to adapt to the harsh modern conditions – low temperatures and high levels of radiation.



“While no signs of life have yet been found on the surface of Mars, our work shows that conditions at depths of several meters can potentially support it. This space, which is less aggressive and is believed to contain water, has never been explored before, but soon, with the launch of the Rosalind Franklin rover, it will become possible”.

Dimitra Atri, lead study author from New York University in Abu Dhabi

However, Atri suggests that traces of water in the form of ice and brine can be found on Mars already at a depth of two meters on Mars, and they are subjected to redox chemistry due to radiation. Using a combination of models, space flight data, and exploration of deep-sea cave ecosystems on Earth, Atri proposed several ways to explore life below the planet’s surface during his upcoming mission to Mars.

He hypothesized that galactic cosmic radiation, capable of penetrating several meters below the surface, causes chemical reactions that can be used to obtain metabolic energy by living organisms. Similar processes are taking place on Earth.