Astronomy Issues: Life on Mars Research Paper

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Introduction

Mars is a planet that is similar and closer to earth than other planets. The planet has soil and rocks on its surface, and it has some gases in the atmosphere. Earlier researches indicated that there was a possibility of having some water, which is an essential aspect of life. According to astronomical researches, Mars has a cold climate, and the length of days and nights in Mars have a pattern similar to the one on Earth.

Moreover, since the axial tilt of Mars is similar to Earth’s axial tilt, the two planets experience the same seasons. The mentioned findings cause much anxiety as scientists suspect that the planet may support life.

If the assumptions are true, it would be necessary to find out if there was some ancient life on Mars and the possibility of having life on Mars. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration agency (NASA) has done several aerospace types of research to find out if indeed the planet can support life. This paper will take a stringent analysis of the research findings to determine the possibility of life on Mars.

The Surface of Mars

In 1864, some curious astronomers gazed at Mars through telescopes, and they perceived the surface of Mars to have some vegetation. However, a spacecraft was able to arrive on Mars a hundred years later, and interestingly, there was no vegetation on Mars. The land was bare, and there was no evidence of water or life. Since then, several robotic spacecraft have arrived on the planet, but none has proved that Mars has a sign of life.

The most interesting thing to note is the earth’s magnetic field that turns away dangerous radiation particles in the space. Mars has no magnetic field to turn away the dangerous radiations; therefore, the planet is hostile to any form of life (Space Place, 2014, para. 5). The magnetic shield protects the atmosphere from losing moisture; therefore, lack of it makes the planes susceptible to losing its atmospheric moisture to the solar wind.

Mars has less air than the earth does, and there is no evidence of water on the planet. In case there was water on the planet, it must have been too saline to support life. The scientific experiments facilitated by robotic spacecraft that arrived in Mars never revealed any sign of living microorganisms in the soil.

Indeed, the absence of living microorganisms in the soil is a clear indication of the absence of water on the red planet. NASA has also employed efforts to find out whether the soil particles might contain tiny fossils that would be a sign of ancient life on Mars. So far, the aerospace research reports have not found any feasible results indicating the presence of life in the cold desert.

The Atmosphere

The Red Planet’s surface temperatures lie between -143oc and +27oc, and indeed, these temperatures are considerably low. The most controversial fact about Mars is the thin atmospheric pressure that is about 1% of that on earth (Turner, 2004, p. 306).

The air is dry with no liquid water, and the ultraviolet radiations in the atmosphere cannot support life in any way. It is noteworthy that Mars’ polar caps have frozen carbon dioxide, which would thicken the atmosphere if released into the air through warming.

Interestingly, there is no rain on Mars, and the planet obtains less sunshine than the Earth due to its long distance from the sun. Although carbon dioxide that is necessary for photosynthesis is plenty on the Red Planet, it is almost impossible for the planet to support plant life because of the lack of light energy (Hunter, 2013, p. 22). In the absence of the plants, herbivorous cannot survive, and consequently, the carnivorous cannot survive on the Red Planet.

Controversial Issues about Mars

No one can tell the truth about the images that show large river channel networks on the Red Planet. Explorers are wondering if the layered sediments may imply that Mars had some flowing rivers in the past. There are assumptions that Mars was a warm and wet place, but for unknown reasons, everything dried up.

It is noteworthy that air and water are the most important aspects of life; interestingly, Mars cannot support liquid water because of its low temperatures. Secondly, the atmospheric pressure on Mars cannot allow the exchange of gases. While animals need high atmospheric pressure with plenty of oxygen, the plants need small amounts of oxygen, and the two living things exchange gases for survival.

Some researches indicated that there were some traces of methane gas in the atmosphere, and thus it is impossible for the planet to support life (“Life of Mars,” 2013, p. 2). Nitrogen is another very important element of life, but the nitrogen levels in the atmosphere are considerably lower on the Red Planet.

Moreover, no biological process supports nitrogen fixation into the atmosphere. Thus the planet cannot support life. However, scientists believe that initially, the planet had a thick atmosphere, and people can do something to make the place habitable.

The Idea of Transforming Mars

Indeed, scientists are seriously considering the idea of transforming Mars into a habitable planet. The first thing that came up was heating the polar caps to release the carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The approach would help in thickening and warming the atmosphere, which would support liquid water that is essential for life. The considerably low temperatures would increase to manageable levels that can support life.

Scientist thought of mirrors that would reflect extra light onto the poles and warm it up. They also thought of the black color that absorbs heat, and they had the idea of sprinkling dark dust onto the poles of the Red Planet.

The most promising idea was introducing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to warm up the planet (Marinova, 2008, para. 7). Indeed, the latter idea would be the most viable provided the scientists used greenhouse gases with long atmospheric lifetimes. This would ensure that the entire exercise would have minimal effects on the ozone layer of the planet.

Later on, researchers found out that the best greenhouse gas that can warm up the planet is perfluoropropane. This hybrid gas is a combination of all gases released by industries in the entire globe, and the gas is not portable. Therefore, the idea of introducing greenhouse gases into the red planet’s atmosphere would hold if industries were set up on Mars.

The issue was politicized, and the opposing group could not find it worthwhile to introduce the greenhouse gases that have already proved to have negative effects on the climate on Earth.

On the other hand, the scientists, who were for the idea indicated that planet Earth has an evolved ecosystem, explored the existence of various life forms; however, there is no ecosystem in Mars. Although there may be some organisms living underground, they cannot prevent explorers and scientists from undertaking their experiments.

The Idea of Preserving the Planet

Although some scientists are strongly proposing that they should try to establish ways through which Mars can support life, others are arguing that it is unreasonable to tamper with natural creation. Some people feel that Mars is a beautiful planet that ought to be preserved for future generations.

This is because if scientists manage to heat Mars, they may find it difficult to introduce oxygen into the atmosphere of the planet. People will have to wear oxygen masks and struggle to survive in the high-pressure atmosphere. Indeed, Earth is unique because of its ability to support life, and therefore, trying to transform Mars may sound to be theoretically feasible, but it is practically impossible.

Summary and Conclusion

From the discussions, it is evident that scientists are desperately looking for ways to enable Mars to support life. They are curious about finding any evidence about the ancient existence of life on the Red Planet. The scientists are not ready to quit, and they are keeping on with the search for complex organics that support life.

Although some scientists said that they had found a habitable environment on Mars, they have not shed enough light of the habitable environment on the Red Planet. Currently, there is no life on Mars, as the planet is much drier and colder than it was in the ancient days.

The scientists are continuing with their research of the ways of transforming Mars into a habitable place. It is about 50 years since the first aircraft was able to reach Mars and scientists have not yet found a viable solution. The research is ongoing, and it may take quite some time before the scientists find a way of establishing life on Mars.

References

Hunter, M. G. (2013). Life on Mars 3: More study of NASA’s Mars photos. Bloomington, IN: Xlibris Corporation.

Life on Mars fades after curiosity rover methane findings. (2013). The Australian, 35(9), 1-2.

Marinova, M. (2008). . Web.

(2014). Web.

Turner, M. J. (2004). Expedition Mars. New York, NY: Springer.

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