Discovery of basic forms of life under the surface of Mars would have a similar impact of discovering the first planet around another star other than our Sun, a leading scientist said.
Dr Dimitris Stamatellos, associate professor of Astrophysics at the University of Central Lancashire (UK), told the Cyprus News Agency that this would revolutionize astrobiology.
He told CNA that even if signatures of life are discovered, these will more likely be microorganisms, like bacteria.
However, even such “modest” findings are likely to have a high impact and possibly revolutionise astrobiology.
“I don’t think that the possible evidence of past or current life on Mars will shock the public like the famous “The War of the Worlds” broadcast did a few decades ago, when a reading of the book on the radio led to panic as people actually believed that we were being invaded by Martians.”
Stamatellos said studying the characteristics of life developed in such a different and extreme environment like Mars, will inspire scientists to develop new theories and acquire a better understanding of life.
“Just 24 years ago we only knew one solar system and we thought that we understood its formation pretty well, but since then the discovery of exoplanetary systems that are very different from our own has challenged our understanding of planet formation and has led to the development of new theories.”
He said the discovery of any signs of life will be a huge boost for Mars exploration and make us think about developing a base on Mars that might be able to partially sustain itself using the planet’s resources.
“I am sure that there will be significant findings both from NASA’s Mars2020 and ESA’s ExoMars missions, which will be launched next July, to keep the public’s interest in the Red Planet high and open up the road towards a manned mission to Mars in the next couple of decades.” (source CNA)