The search for life on Mars gets more complicated. Scientists detected a new difficulty. The radiation on Mars is extremely destructive. If there is life, it would have to be more than two meters underground. We will have to dig deep to find it.
Mars lacks a magnetic field and has a flimsy atmosphere. Therefore, it suffers a much higher dose of cosmic radiation on its surface than Earth. Such radiation, in turn, destroys amino acids. This process takes place on very short time scales in geological terms.
Life in the deep
“It’s happening at a much faster rate than previously thought,” says NASA physicist Alexander Pavlov.
“Current Mars rover missions drill down to about five centimeters. At that depth, it would take only 20 million years to destroy the amino acids.”
Cosmic radiation is actually a major concern for Mars exploration. An average human being on Earth is exposed to about 0.33 millisieverts of cosmic radiation per year. On Mars, that annual exposure could be more than 250. It comes from solar flares and energetic events such as supernovae. It can penetrate rock, ionizing and destroying any organic molecules in its path.
Mirror of the Earth
Mars is believed to have once had a global magnetic field and a much denser atmosphere. Just like Earth’s. There is much evidence that there was liquid water in the form of oceans, rivers, and lakes. This combination of features suggests that Mars may have been habitable in its past. The presence of amino acids is another factor. They are key to life.
Like indicates the magazine Astrobiologytests were carried out simulating Mars conditions. Thus it is known that the planet has not been hospitable to life for a long time. The radiation from Mars is destructive, although that does not imply that it has never had life. Perhaps, it is just the future mirror of our own planet.