A study assures that Mars had favorable conditions for life more than 3.7 billion years ago.
The subsurface of early Mars was likely habitable for hydrogen-feeding, methane-producing microorganisms, according to a modeling study most likely theoretical , published in Nature Astronomy.
The predicted biomass production, had life existed, would have been comparable to that of Earth’s early ocean and would have had a global cooling effect on the planet’s early climate, the authors note in a press release.
The evidence suggests that the planet hosted at least for part of its history potentially favorable conditions for the development of life. However, the likelihood of such a scenario has rarely been quantitatively established.
Boris Sauterey and colleagues have modeled the interaction between Mars’ primitive environment and an ecosystem of so-called methanogenic hydrogenotrophs microorganisms that survive by consuming hydrogen and producing methane and are considered to be one of the earliest forms of life on Earth.
The authors theoretical simulations predict that the Martian crust was a viable site for this ecosystem provided the surface was not completely covered with ice and could have produced a biomass similar to that of Earth’s early ocean.
The team predicts that this ecosystem would have triggered a feedback event with Mars’ climate, cooling it globally to 40 degrees Kelvin and creating less habitable conditions near the surface. This would have forced the microbes to progressively move deeper into the planet’s crust.
Looking ahead, the authors identify three locations: the Hellas plain, the Isis plain and the Jezero crater, as the best places to look for signs of this for the time being theoretical early methanogenic life near the surface of Mars.