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вторник, 24 марта 2015 г.

Biologist suggests carbon monoxide as an energy source for microbes on Mars

                                                                                                                                                                         Gary King, a biologist at Louisiana State University has put forth the idea that if life did exist on Mars, it very possibly could have survived by using carbon monoxide. In his paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, he discusses his study of microbes in soil samples collected here on Earth that are able to pull in carbon monoxide and why it might relate to life on Mars.

In order for life to have existed on Mars (or if it still does in a place we have not found yet) it would have to have an energy source of some kind. Prior research has suggested such a source might be nitrogen, the same energy source for most plants here on Earth—a recent report by researchers studying data from Curiosity rover, describes nitrates found in the soil. In this new effort, King takes a different approach, he believes that  may hold the key to life on Mars.
King took soil samples from three places here on Earth that have very dry climates and very salty soil, the Atacama desert in Chili, the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah and a part of the big island in Hawaii. In studying the samples, he found that the soil did indeed pull carbon monoxide out of the air and held onto it. He suggests the same process could occur on Mars, as its atmosphere has more carbon monoxide in it than does ours. He goes further to suggest that the mysterious, recurring slope lineae—dark streaks that change color seasonally on Mars, might be due to carbon monoxide being pulled into the soil. He believes that carbon monoxide could represent the missing piece in the search for  on Mars: the energy source. As evidence of the possibility, he points out two microbes (Halorubrum str. BV1 and Alkalilimnicola ehrlichii MLHE-1) that live on Earth that use carbon monoxide as an energy source, one of which has also been shown able to tolerate salt concentrations that are similar to those found in Martian soil.
Unfortunately, there is no mechanism for testing King's ideas, neither of the rovers on Mars has the equipment needed for that kind of test. He will have to wait until 2021, when NASA plans to send a probe to the Red planet that is capable of detecting microbes in the .


Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-03-biologist-carbon-monoxide-energy-source.html#jCp