What Can Earth's Deserts Teach Us About Martian Life?
Hey brain stuff instead of an ad today. I wanted to tell you about another podcast that I think you might like dressed the history of fashion, join fashion historians, April Callaghan and Cassidy Zachary twice a week as they explore. The who what when and why of what we wear the history of fashion is a history of capitalism and culture, power dynamics in gender relations of politics, religion, and technology, full episodes drop on Tuesdays and beginning with season to April and Cassidy answer your questions in a fashion history mystery, Minnesota every Thursday find dressed the history of fashion on apple podcasts the iheartradio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Welcome to brain stuff from how stuff works. Hey, rain stuff, Lauren Vogel bomb here when it comes to searching for microbes on Mars, sending robotic Rover to the most arid environment on earth is a fine place to start as described in a study recently published in the journal frontiers in microbiology a team of researchers explored the extreme environment of Chile's Atacama desert. They wanted to develop strategies that future robotic explorers could use to seek out the hiding places of Marchin microbes in two thousand twenty both NASA and the European Space Agency will launch their first life hunting Rovers to the red planet. The Mars twenty twenty and Exo Mars Rover missions respectively. So mission managers will need to know where to look the other comma desert is about as extreme as it gets for life to eke out an existence not only is the region bone-dry. The core of the desert doesn't get any rainfall for decades at a time, but because of its elevation it also receives high levels of damaging all tra-, violet radiation. Plus, the soil is extremely salty these. Factors should make the Atacama desert toxic for life. But according to team leader Stephane pointing a professor at Yale and u s college in Singapore, some of the bacteria just below the surface quote survive right at the limit of bid ability, and this is very good news for the prospect of finding microbes on Mars pointing team deployed an autonomous Rover mounted drill and sampling device in the Atacama desert to see if it could extract soil samples containing microbes down to a depth of eighty centimeters. That's a little over two and a half feet as a comparison samples were also dug up by hand through DNA sequencing, the researchers found that the bacterial life in the samples from both methods were similar confirming that these hardy bacteria exist, and the autonomous extraction method was successful this test run Shore's up hope that if similarly hardy microbes also thrived just below the Martian surface, a robot could find them, however, finding microbial bio signatures on Mars could be very challenging for remotely operated. Mars rover. The researchers found that the subsurface. Population of bacteria were extremely patchy correlating with increased salt levels that restricted the availability of water appointing put it this way, the patchy nature of the colonization just the Rover would be faced with a needle in haystack scenario in the search for Martian bacteria. Previous studies have described the BIC witness population of relatively unremarkable photosynthetic bacteria. The populate the surface of the desert in Chile, these microorganisms that get their energy from sunlight things start to get a lot more interesting and indeed more alien just below the surface pointing said we saw that with increasing depth that the bacterial community became dominated by 'Bacterial that can thrive in extremely salty and alkaline soils. They in turn were replaced adepts down to eighty centimeters by a single specific group of bacteria that survive by metabolising methane. These specialized microbes have been found before in deep mineshafts and other subterranean environments, but they've never been seen beneath the surface of an arid desert pointing said the communities of bacteria that we discovered were remarkably lacking in complexity and this likely reflects the extreme stress under which they develop. Finding highly specialized microbes that can thrive in the extremely dry salty and alkaline Mars lake soils in the comma desert suggest methane utilizing bacteria could also thrive on the red planet. Elevated levels of methane have been observed on Mars by various spacecraft over the years most recently measures made by Nasr's curiosity Rover, and that's a big deal, unearth, biological and geological processes generate methane and intern microbes can metabolize methane for energy. The discovery of methane in the Martian atmosphere. Could mean there's some kind of active biology going on under ground to confirm this. We need microbe seeking missions that will drill below the surface. And now we have a strategy to track them down should microbial life on Mars. It would undoubtedly be the most significant scientific discovery in human history. But in the proud human tradition of naming new things, what would we call our newly discovered? Marsh neighbors, would we just copy the system of how we name life honor pointing said the way we assign Latin names too. S real bacteria is based on their evolutionary relationship tweets other. And we measure that using their genetic code the naming of Martian bacteria would require a completely new set of Latin names at the highest level if Martian bacteria were a completely separate nary lineage that is they evolved from a different common ancestor to earth bacteria in a second Genesis event. Granted if we find the genetic code of Mars life to be similar to earth life. It could be that life was transferred from earth to Mars in the ancient past via a massive impact a mechanism known as panspermia. But if we find a truly novel genetic code that emerged on Mars, the implications for understanding of life would be profound pointing said if we find truly native Marsh and bacteria, I would love to name one and call it. Planeta desert him superstars, which translates in Latin to survivor on the desert planet. Today's episode was written by Ian, O'Neill and produced by Tyler claim for I heart media, and how stuff works for more on this and lots of other hearty, topics. Visit our home planet. Testif- works dot com. Hey brain stuff instead of an ad today. I wanted to tell you about another podcast that I think you might like dressed the history of fashion, join fashion historians, April Callaghan and Cassidy Zachary twice a week as they explore. The who what when and why of what we wear the history of fashion is a history of capitalism and culture, power dynamics in gender relations of politics, religion, and technology, full episodes drop on Tuesdays and beginning with season to April and Cassidy answer your questions in a fashion history mystery Minnie's Minnesota every Thursday find dressed the history of fashion on apple podcasts the iheartradio app or wherever you get your podcasts.