U.S. scientists demonstrated the ability of two bacteria to survive in an environment similar to Mars.After years of studies on the red planet, US researchers demonstrated that at least two species of salt-tolerant bacteria they are able to survive being dehydrated and hydrated again.
Ours is the first demonstration of microbes that survive and grow after being dried and then re-wetted only with moisture
Mark Shneegurt, a life sciences teacher at a Kansas university, said Mark Shneegurt.
Scientists at various universities and institutes, including NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, experimented with two salt-tolerant bacterial species called Halomonas and Marinococcus. These were collected from two American salt lakes. Later, they sought to recreate the environment of Mars. On the one hand, when the red planet stays dry it has abundant calcium sulfate salts, this could form saturated brines, iron and magnesium, and on the other hand, at night the humidity reaches between 80% and 100% humidity. For the experiment they were grown in brine composed of 50% water and another half magnesium sulfate. First, they dried drops of saline water with bacteria cultures. For two hours they were in a vacuum container (without air) with chemicals that absorb water, and then sealed the container. In just one day the salts of the bacterial culture managed to absorb enough water that was in the moisture of the container, so that they began to produce a saturated brackish liquid, and after that the bacteria revived. It is the saturated brines of Mars in their dry state that indicates that they could harbor Martian microbious.
Liquid water is the key to life
Said Dr Schneegurt, who added that «liquid water on the red planet is saturated with salts. We work on the tolerable limits of microbial life in high-density salts and at low temperatures.» The likelihood that surface salts will be able to attract enough water to form brines that can aid microbial growth is very high. Current research can also help redefine what constitutes a habitable zone, extending the search for life to other icy worlds,» Schneegurt explained.
Original source in Spanish