back to article Briny liquid may be more common on Mars than once thought, unlikely to support life as we know it

Liquid Martian brines may be more common than once thought, but they are unlikely to play host to anything that looks like life as we know it, a paper in Nature Astronomy has found. Stable liquid water is considered as one of the necessary ingredients for life to emerge, but under current Mars conditions, it is both too cold …

  1. Tom Chiverton 1

    Who cares if it can support terriasteral life or not?

    it's Martian life we worry about!

    1. DJV Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: it's Martian life we worry about!

      1) The chances of anything coming from living on Mars are a million to one.

      2) But million to one chances crop up nine times o... etc. etc. (GNU PTerry)

      3) And it's 2020 so...

      HELP!!!

    2. ocratato

      That is exactly the problem. If you found a microbe on Mars you then have to determine if its indigenous or did it come along on your space craft (or some one else's space craft). Knowing that these places cannot support Earth microbes means that any that you find are more likely to be Martians.

    3. ThatOne Silver badge

      > Who cares if it can support terrestrial life or not?

      I think the point here was about the chances of biological contamination from Earth, something which is important if we ever plan to send humans up there. Sterilizing a machine is expensive but doable, but there is no way to sterilize a human (short of boiling it for an hour...).

      1. jake Silver badge

        Health warning!

        "short of boiling it for an hour..."

        Boiling meat for an hour does NOT sterilize it. For proper sterilization (making it shelf stable), you need to process in a pressure canner at 10 pounds for 75 minutes (pints) or 90 minutes (quarts). Processing time is the same for hot-pack or cold-pack.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: Health warning!

          > Boiling meat for an hour does NOT sterilize it.

          Technically you might be right, but my point still stands, you can not sterilize a human. We're wandering heaps of all kind of flora and fauna we mostly can't live without.

          (It's not me who downvoted you BTW)

  2. jake Silver badge

    Oh, I dunno ...

    ... there are some pretty high-order animals here on Earth that can live in saturated brine solutions. The imaginatively named Brine Shrimp come to mind. They can even survive in quite cold temperatures. (Yes, I know, the "brines" on Mars aren't necessarily purely NaCl in water. They aren't here on Earth, either. And yet life seems to find a way ... ).

    1. ExampleOne

      Re: Oh, I dunno ...

      I was thinking something similar. Given the terrestrial environments life has been found in, it seems presumptuous to dismiss the possibility out of hand. This may be an environment outside the known parameters, but unless we have multiple examples of such environments here on Earth we can’t say terrestrial life couldn’t survive it, just that it hasn’t had a chance to.

      Is this environment that much harsher than the brine lakes under the ice cap in the Antarctic?

    2. boltar Silver badge

      Re: Oh, I dunno ...

      With concentrated soil perchlorates and serious levels of unfiltered solar UV and radiation the cold and brine would be the least of any terrestrial organisms problems.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Oh, I dunno ...

        I wouldn't expect terrestrial life. However, I am questioning the statement that Martian brines are "unlikely to play host to anything that looks like life as we know it". I rather suspect that if any life is found, it'll look and act an awful lot like life here on Earth ... Including being oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen based, with a sprinkle of calcium and phosphorus, a dash of potassium, sodium, sulpher and chlorine, a bit of magnesium and a small pinch of other contaminants.

  3. Paul Johnston
    Mushroom

    Life is more tenacious than you would expect

    There are very few places on earth where life hasn't arrived.

    Selection happens when there is pressure to survive so there is no reason why anything on earth would evolve to live in an environment which doesn't exist on earth.

    Without looking into Scientific papers you can get an idea at

    https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2013/08/02/5-extreme-life-forms-that-live-on-the-edge/

    We will give them 212° Fahrenheit (1000° Celsius) is an unfortunate typo

    Icon in homage to D. radiodurans

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Paul Johnston - Re: Life is more tenacious than you would expect

      Alexa, what is life ?

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: @Paul Johnston - Life is more tenacious than you would expect

        Alexa, what is life ?

        "Life is what you make of it. Would you like me to order you another packet of crisps?"

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: @Paul Johnston - Life is more tenacious than you would expect

          Crisps? Shirley that should be toast ...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: what is life ?

        ... briny don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more. :-)

      3. Chris 239

        Re: @Paul Johnston - Life is more tenacious than you would expect

        Try asking Alexa why the chicken crossed the road....

        The answer always cracks me up.

  4. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    "unlikely to support life as we know it"

    So life could be there but it's unlikely that the first humans on mars will be able to catch it and eat it. But let's face it, who thought that there could be life living deep under the ocean on volcanic vents? The idea was thought to be just crazy 50 years ago - but not today.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unlikely to support life? Try telling that to the Martian crabs!

    http://cdn.images.dailystar.co.uk/dynamic/1/photos/611000/620x/crab-mars-457715.jpg

    1. veti Silver badge

      Don't be silly. That's clearly an artificial decoy, probably put there when Apollo 11 landed on Mars and pretended it was the Moon.

  6. Chris G Silver badge

    There may not be life there

    But on the off chance there is I would take a rod and some charcoal for a catch and cook.

  7. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
    Alien

    No life but plenty of puppets!

    We use really long poles to control the puppets from earth

    1. Glen 1 Silver badge

      Re: No life but plenty of puppets!

      SIG Colonel

  8. Chris 239

    Note to Elon

    Best take a barbie with you to cook them brine shrimp mate!

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