The researchers argue that bacteria can live in salt water on the surface of Mars. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology’s held in San Francisco on June 20-24, 2019.
Researchers from Wichita State University, Kansas, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, and the Space Science Institute in Colorado grow two species of bacteria in brine, consisting of half water and magnesium sulfate. Suspected that two bacteria can live and survive in mars.
Species of salt-tolerant bacteria, Halomonas and Marinococcus, are obtained from Hot Lake, in the state of Washington and the Great Salt Plains of Oklahoma. The team dried small droplets from bacterial cultures that grew by placing them for two hours in a vacuum container with chemicals that absorb water, before sealing them in Mason jars with a solution of water or salt.
Bacteria can live in salt water
Within a day, salt in dry bacterial cultures has absorbed enough water from the moisture of the container to make the foreign liquid saturate. The researchers found, at that time several bacterial cells were revived.
Although some bacteria can die during the drying and re-wetting process, more than 50 percent can survive and grow to reach high culture densities.
“Our first demonstration microbes survived and grew after being dried and then moistened again with moisture,” said biologist Mark Schneegurt of Wichita State University, quoted by the Daily Mail, Sunday (06/23/2019).
A similar process might occur every day on the surface of Mars, where humidity reaches as high as 80-100 percent at night, before shrinking as the temperature rises during the day.
“The possibility is high so that sometimes surface salts can attract enough water to form salt water which can support microbial growth. Current research can also help define habitable zones, expanding the search for life into another world of ice,” he said.
Along with the implications for the possibility of finding life on Mars, this study reveals greater potential to pollute the Red Planet and other ice worlds, with a viable bacterial population accidentally transported from Earth.