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Finding! an animal that could live on Mars

Finding! an animal that could live on Mars

A couple of years ago, there was already talk of the possibilities of animal life on Mars at a microbiological level when water was discovered on the planet.

Scientist Alfred McEwen, concluded that the possibility of life on Mars was "very high", although it would be at the microbiological level and on its surface. "If there is water seeping under the surface, maybe there is an environment where bacteria and microbial life can survive," agreed astrobiologist Lewis Dartnell.

But what kind of life are they talking about

"Extremophile" was the name given to the microbe capable of adapting to the extreme conditions of the Martian planet such as temperatures that reach 100 degrees below zero.

They are organisms that also exist on Earth in different places on our planet such as Lake Magadi in Kenya; also in the "eyes of the sea" (small, deep and very salty lagoons) in Tolar Grande, Salta.

NASA made its experiments with these microorganisms, in 2011 it sent “water bears” on a shuttle: microscopic invertebrates called tardigrades and they survived. They are organisms with extraordinary resistance to extreme environments, capable of surviving for decades without food or water.

Advances and a new finding

On this occasion, the Dutch biologist Wieger Wamelink, leader of the team of researchers from the University of Wageningen (Netherlands), has discovered that earthworms can reproduce in the soil of Mars.

This creature, vital to the survival of any ecosystem, has been multiplied in a Martian soil simulator they obtained from NASA with material from a volcano in Hawaii (Mars) and a desert in Arizona (moon).

The experiment

To feed the humans of the future on Mars, a closed and sustainable agricultural ecosystem is a must. The worms would play a crucial role in this system as they break down and recycle dead organic matter. Human excrement and urine could also enter this composting cycle to fertilize the soil. But in the experiment, for practical and safety reasons, pig excrement is being used.

With this system, in the Martian soil simulator it has been possible to grow leafy vegetables such as arugula. “Clearly, the manure stimulated growth and we saw that the worms were getting active. However, the best surprise came at the end of the experiment when we found new young specimens, ”said Wieger Wamelink from Wageningen University & Research.

These experiments, published in the journal Science Daily, bring us closer to the possibility that human beings could survive on the red planet, since the raising of worms would be a fundamental element to start thinking about growing food on Mars.

Photo:Wieger Wamelink, WUR

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