Scientists have found bacteria at a depth of 125 m under the ocean. The temperature there rises to 1.2 thousand°C – this discovery will allow scientists to understand where you can look for life on Mars. The work of researchers from the University of Tokyo is published in the journal Communications Biology.
Researchers found bacteria in rock samples obtained in 2010 during the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) – then a research vessel took samples in the region of the tropical island of Tahiti. Using a metal pipe with a diameter of about 6.2 cm across and more than 5.7 km long, scientists first reached the bottom of the ocean and then drilled a well 125 m deep below the bottom.
This allowed scientists to get to the underwater volcanoes that spew lava at about 1.2 thousand°C. Ultimately, the lava cools and turns into stone with many cracks. In core samples from one of these cracks, the researchers found bacteria.
Unicellular creatures turned out to be aerobic bacteria – in other words, they use a process similar to how human cells generate energy by relying on oxygen and organic nutrients.
Clay minerals that fill cracks in deep oceanic rocks are similar to minerals that can be found in rocks on the surface of Mars, the researchers write. Studying them is likely to find living bacteria on the Red Planet – or at least their remains.