Essay on Life on Mars – The Red Planet
Our solar system consists of eight planets revolving around the sun. The eight planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune revolving around the sun in the respective order. Earth is the 3rd planet in the solar system starting from the sun, which is the only planet in the solar system known to have life.
Mars is the 4th planet starting from the sun & the second smallest by size. It is also known as the red planet because it appears as an orange-red star in the sky. Life on Mars has been a massive topic of interest for research by the scientist.
The possibility of life on Mars has been aroused by its proximity & similarities to the Earth. However, until now, no life has been discovered on the planet, but certain proofs indicating past life in Mars has been validated, which has undoubtedly gained enormous interest in astrobiology.
Comparison of Earth & Mars
Mars is almost half of the Earth’s diameter, although the surface area is only a little bit less in comparison to Earth. The Earth is denser than Mars, and the volume of the planet is 15% of the volume of Earth. The mass of the planet is 11% of the mass of the Earth.
This means that the gravity of the planet is only about 38% of the gravity of the planet earth. The atmospheric pressure of Mars is almost lower than 1% of the atmospheric pressure of the Earth.
It has been found that the atmosphere of Mars is very much similar to the Earth. Traces of oxygen has been found in the atmosphere of the planet. Signs have been collected, which confirms the presence of water in liquid form in the past. It has also been studied that seasonal cycles & rotation of Earth is very much similar to that of Mars. As Earth has one moon, the planet has two moons revolving around itself named as Deimos and Phobos.
Probability of Life on Mars
The first evidence of life on Mars has been highlighted in the early 19th century, since then scientists, and astronomers are carrying out a number of experiments & studies to assess the habitability of the planet. The research is also focused on the possibility of life on Mars in the past.
When searching for life water in the liquid state is critical, as most life forms evolve around this. Experts believe that the planet was once covered with a vast ocean which accounts to be more than what we have in Earth today. Which, in turn, indicates that streams of water, rivers may have flowed in the past.
It is believed to be much warmer than it is currently. Most optimum temperature & water is one of the basics which gives rise to the existence of life, so there is a high possibility of life on Mars in the past.
Furthermore, life is existing in Earth in some extreme conditions like cold regions, hot springs, etc., so giving hope for the existence of life on the planet.
Presence of methane on Mars has forced scientists to think about the possibility of microbes under the surface. By the analysis of small pinches of soil from the planet, experts predict that there may be refugee life deep inside the planet’s surface.
Challenges of Life on Mars
Although there are past pieces of evidence of the presence of water in liquid form, today the planet is found barren & dry with most of its water locked up in the polar ice caps. As the water in liquid form is key to life, here it poses a problem for the same.
The climate of the planet is another significant problem. The temperature of the planet is much colder than that of Earth, i.e. the mean surface temperatures of Mars range between −87 and −5 °C. The planet’s atmosphere is thin, which poses another significant challenge as it allows the harmful radiations from the sun to penetrate.
The environment & atmosphere is harsh & extreme to survive, although oxygen is found in the atmosphere of all over the planet. The lower atmospheric pressure & gravitational force of the planet is another hurdle for life on Mars.
Studies, Expeditions on Mars & the Future
There have been plenty of experiments, missions to study life on Mars since 1962. The first spacecraft launched was named as Mars1, although this spacecraft lost its communication, few findings regarding temperature variations were recorded. Mars4 was launched in 1965, which was successful in capturing photographs of the surface. It confirmed that there is no evidence of water on the surface & provided with data on gravitational forces.
Afterwards Viking program placed two identical landers named as Viking 1 & Viking 2 on the surface of Mars to look for biosignatures of microbial life on the surface. Exploration of Mars was put on hold for more than two decades. When the analysis resumed, experts focused on findings for a habitable environment on Mars.
The orbiters & landers revealed the presence of water beneath the surface, which is considered an excellent cause to support life on the planet. In 2018 the evidence of complex organic compounds was reported on the planet. Much research is still going on for the same. The modern scientific queries have emphasized on search on water, chemical biosignatures & biomarker gases.
A future mission to Mars could include sample returns to Earth for further study with sample analysis community to get more serious about defining & prioritizing Mars sample science as indicated by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration).
Life on Mars is a topic that has attracted a lot of attention & curiosity among scientists & experts. Although there is still no full assurance of whether Mars will be able to support life like Earth fully. However, with the hope to explore Mars for the possibility of life, a lot of research & studies are still going on to discover the same.