The immediate neighbor to planet Earth – Mars, is a familiar favorite for all. It looks as if everyone wants to travel to the planet and start a new life there. NASA, wants to send humans to the Red Planet by 2023, and there are several privately operated missions trying to find details of life on the same. However, things are not as easy as it seems, and there are ultimate reasons Mars cannot support life. But what are those?
Toxic Soil And Inconsistent Temperature
A study does reveal that the Martian soil is toxic to bacteria. But why? Mars’s soil contains a considerable amount of ‘perchlorates’ – a highly oxidized form of chlorine. Now, this does form a steady source of energy for the bacteria. Also, like common salt, perchlorates can low down the melting point of water, enabling it to exist in liquid form. However, perchlorates can also be toxic, depending on the fact that it reacts with ultraviolet radiation – which is abundant on Mars.
Also, researchers went into finding how the temperature was inconsistent throughout Mars. Where the maximum surface temperature would reach 22° C (76° F), but the average temperature throughout the planet continues to remain at -55° C (-67° F). Too warm temperature makes the perchlorate deadly, while too-cold temperatures will kill the bacteria. Of all life forms, why is it the bacteria researchers are concerned about? Well, it does signify the appropriate condition for life on Mars.
A Completely Liquid Iron-Alloy Core
Data collected by NASA’s InSight Mars lander reveals that the Martian core is composed of liquid iron alloy with high Oxygen and Sulfur percentages. To calculate the density of the planet’s core, the team tracked down the seismic events on Mars. The first was a large Marsquake, and the second was an impact by an object from space making the Mars core ripple.
The team found out what the core was made of by calculating data about the composition of Oxygen and Sulfur in Mar’s innermost layer. Other traces of magnetism by the crust of Mars did indicate the considerable gravity of the planet, which now ceases to exist. And in this regard, they have the phenomenon of bombardment of space rocks to blame for such an evolution.
There Is No Atmosphere
A look at Mars in the current date will prove the planet to be unfit for life, one of the many reasons Mars cannot support life. However, researchers believe it was not always the same and that there was a much thicker atmosphere, with cloudy skies and flowing water. So what made it to such a place? How the planet lost its atmosphere to outer space?
In this regard, NASA’s Maven spacecraft has some clear answers.
- Sputtering: In the process, atoms were knocked away from the atmosphere of Mars under the influence of energetic particles from space. Thus losing out on the once-dense atmosphere. It is much like a pool game. The cluster is hit and separated by a particular ball. In this case it is ion. And after billions of years, this ultimately led to Mar’s atmosphere losing its essential components.
- Neutral Processes: On Mars, Hydrogen and Oxygen molecules are found in the upper part of the atmosphere and are often seen colliding with each other. These are bound to the planet by gravity. However, under conditions when a fast-moving molecule collides with another at a right angle, the speed increases, and they might be able to leave the planet’s atmosphere and lose out into space. The continuation of such a phenomenon led to Mars losing its atmosphere over time.
The Liquid Water On The Planet Vanished With Time
Researchers do acknowledge the watery history of Mars, owing to certain features which highlight possibilities of water in the liquid state flowing through the planet. Even thorough comparisons with Earth and topographical analysis of the planet revealed the same. But where did the water go? What made the lack of water in liquid state one of the reasons Mars cannot support life?
- One theory is that the planet is too small to hold water. The gravitational pull of Mars is not that strong, making it an unfit to hold water in liquid form.
- Another theory describes water loss as “crustal hydration,” where the water is there within the planet’s minerals. Either way, it is trapped inside the surface of Mars.
So that is all about the various reasons Mars cannot support life. Still, much of the planet remains undiscovered, and NASA has back-to-back expeditions planned to take care of all the essentials. In future hopefully there will be more information about Mars.