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Marble samples could spread over the planet via dust particles



  marsatacama

No, we did not come to Mars. This is the Atacama Desert in Chile.


Margarita Azua

Let's start with a hard truth: Mars is far away, and it will be several decades before we settle there no matter what Elon Musk's plans may look like . Fortunately, we can visit Mars here on Earth ̵

1; as long as we can get to Northern Chile. The Martian Atacama Desert lives in this part of the planet. As one of the driest and dustiest places in the world, it provides a precise analogue to test what happens on Mars without ever leaving the comfort of our gravity and atmosphere.

A team of international scientists led by Armando Azua-Bustos, I visited the Atacama to test how microscopic organisms such as bacteria and fungi were able to use dust to spread over long stretches in the desert to move. Their study, published Thursday in the scientific journal Scientific Reports, describes the "very simple experiment" that they used to investigate how these microbes can withstand harsh conditions such as high levels of ultraviolet radiation and extreme drought in the Atacama.






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In this very simple experiment, scientists set up plates of "broth," a nutrient cocktail that microbes can grow into, from the shore to the desert at six specific locations. The first location was 63 kilometers long, the second 50 kilometers. The scientists studied the dust that had accumulated in empty plates and were able to isolate four types of fungi and five types of bacteria.

Afternoon in the Atacama are particularly windy and dusty. Not quite at the same level as Mars, which in the past has experienced planet-wide dust storms but windy enough to transport dust particles over long distances. The bacteria and fungi found in the core of the Atacama could have come from elsewhere, especially near the coast. Based on the bacterial species, the marine environment of the coastal area could be a starting point, according to the researchers.

Interestingly, the team also found two types of bacteria in their broth, which were previously reported as bacteria in the air. The species were originally discovered in China and India – meaning they may be further away. The team writes that future work will examine their origins.

How does all this relate to life on Mars? Well, as a great analog, the Atacama Desert provides a good test field for this kind of theories. It is impressive that miniature animals such as bacteria and fungi can travel distances that would make people wince, and all this is due to the dusty winds. Based on what the researchers saw on Earth, there is a possibility that mossy dust might have carried microbes across the red planet in the past.

Mars does not seem to be particularly friendly to life. It is barren, dry and has no protective atmosphere. In the past, however, there may have been pockets in which life could exist. Azua-Bustos and his colleagues suggest that their proposed transportation system could have made possible the survival and even the development of microbial life by being distributed from livable to habitable, impossible to put to the test on the red planet , At the moment we only have tantalizing potential insights into life . In the coming years, however, two new rovers will settle on the surface of Mars. The European Space Agency Rosalind Franklin will search for signs of life on Mars, as well as the not yet mentioned Mars 2020 rover of NASA which is to land in Jezero Crater in 2021. [19659016] Updated at 16:40 PT


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