Terrestrial organisms adhering to the outside of the International Space Station (ISS) have survived 533 days in vacuum, intense ultraviolet radiation and extreme temperature fluctuations of outer space.
Do you know what that means? It is not impossible that life on Mars can survive.
Of all the planets in the solar system, Mars seems to be the most likely candidate for life. But it is extremely inhospitable – dusty, dry, lower in gravity and oxygen, exposed to hard radiation due to the thinner atmosphere, cold and torn by dust storms that can plunge the planet into darkness.
We do not have to discover life there yet. However, there are some ways we can test how feasible its presence is. You look for life in Mars-like environments on Earth (Spoiler: we found it). Another is the use of the most breathtaking resources, the ISS.
The German Aerospace Center (DLR) conducted an experiment called BIOMEX, in which organisms such as bacteria, algae, lichens and fungi were exposed to Mars-like conditions aboard Mars.
We know theoretically that Mars has a lot of the things we know from life, including an atmosphere, elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorus, water ice and possibly even liquid water
organisms So they were cultivated in Mars soil simulants (of course, since we do not have any real Mars dirt, we know what's in it, thanks to the Mars Rover, and can replicate it fairly well). Then they were set up outside the space station in the Expose R2 facility.
Hundreds of samples were included in the experiment, some with soil simulant and a simulated Martian atmosphere.
There they stayed between 2014 and 2016 for 18 months before being brought back to Earth for analysis.
The results were impressive.
"Some organisms and biomolecules showed enormous resistance in space and actually returned to Earth as" survivors "from space," said the astrobiologist Jean-Pierre Paul de Vera of the DLR Institute of Planetary Research.
"Among other things, we studied Archaea, which are single-celled microorganisms that have existed on Earth for over three and a half billion years and live in salty seawater, and our" test persons "are relatives of them isolated in Arctic permafrost.
"They survived under space conditions and can also be detected with our instruments. Such unicellular organisms could be candidates for life forms that could be found on Mars.
The organisms came from a variety of harsh environments on Earth, such as the Arctic, the Antarctic, the European Alps, the steppe highlands of Spain, and permafrost: organisms that can survive in such inhospitable conditions are termed extremophiles, and Considered to be the most likely type of living thing that could exist on other planets (or moons of Europe or Enceladus).
By pinching under simulated Martian space conditions, the researchers showed that they could basically survive on Mars, giving the thesis that Life on Earth actually came from Mars 3.8 billion years ago, confirmed on a meteorite from the Red Planet.
"Of course, this does not mean that life actually exists on Mars," said de Vera. "But the search for life is more than ever before for the next generation of missions to Mars. "
None of the devices that have ever been sent to Mars has discovered any life or any tell-tale signs of it, but knowing that it could exist – and which types of organisms are most likely to survive – will help to provide tools  The results were published in Astrobiology .