Scientists have deployed a robotic rover in the Atacama Desert in Chile – most similar environment of Mars on Earth. Deployment of this robot in the Mars-like Chilean Desert intends to find signs of life. However this robotic rover has recovered various subsurface soil samples at the time of a trial mission. Researchers have found distributed patches of unusual microbes in those samples, which proved to water availability and scarce of nutrients. However such findings help in searching signs of life during future missions to Mars.
Stephen Pointing, professor at Yale-NUS College said that collecting subsurface soil from the Mars-like environment was the big success. Previously, many scientists had believed to have surviving life on Mars should be below of the surface. This is because of the low temperature, and high radiation in the harsh surface of Mars to make life unlikely. However finding subsurface soil containing microbes proved their adaption to high salt levels, which hopes for life in Martian subsurface.
Mars Rovers Need to Dig Deep as Life is Patchy in Extreme Environments
Pointing asserted that such microbes exhibit different characteristics from the previously known microbes found on the desert’s surface. NASA and the European Space Agency are planning for a mission in deploying rovers on the Mars surface in 2020. Their target is to search for life and dig below the surface to find the existence of same microbial life.
Chilean desert’s environment is similar to Mars in the area of extreme dryness and decades without rainfall. This desert is the closest match as the desert has high surface of UV radiation exposure and also extremely salty soil. Therefore, scientists are using Chilean desert for testing simulated future missions.
However now scientists are planning to drill deeper for understanding the depth of occurring such recoverable microbes. Future Mars mission is hoping for drilling approximately 2m, after having a solid Earth-based comparison to avoid further complications.