Mars is a planet even more hostile than we thought until now. A new study has concluded that the surface of Mars is too toxic to sustain life, with at least three elements forming a poisonous chemical cocktail that makes it “very improbable” that no body can survive on the surface,
According to a study published in the journal Scientific Reports by Jennifer Wadsworth and Charles S. Cockell of the University of Edinburgh, researchers looked at what happens when soil bacteria feed on perchlorates and then undergo ultraviolet rays similar to Mars . In the experiment, two other usual components of the Martian surface, iron oxides and hydrogen peroxide were added, and the result was fulminant cell death.
At least this is what would happen today, based on what we know or from the organic references we have. Maybe in the past it was different and there was life on Mars. But, according to the researchers, the combined effects of at least three components of the Martian soil, triggered by solar radiation, now make up a surface that is more uninhabitable than previously thought and shows that there is little chance of survival for biological contaminants transported on current and future exploration missions.
All this as far as the surface of the planet is concerned, but it does not necessarily have to be so below the surface. It is believed that at about two feet deep, the influence of this poisonous chemical cocktail is reduced enough to offer more chances of survival to organisms. The European ExoMars 2020 mission plans to drill the Mars floor to at least that depth to scrape additional data about it.
Despite the known hostility of Mars, it is considered that it would be possible to eliminate the toxicity of the Martian soil and enrich it to make agriculture possible, a task that may be more complicated than expected.