Mars is too dry a planet to host any form of life, British scientists have concluded.
An analysis of soil, collected during 2008 NASA Phoenix mission to Mars, by Imperial College London has revealed the Red Planet has experienced a 600 million year “super drought”, the Geophysical Research Letters’ journal reported.
The three-year-long research found that the surface of Mars had been dry for such a long time that any life would have to be lurking deep underground. The scientists deduced that there had been water present during a warmer period lasting up to 5,000 years in distant past, but this would have been too little time for life to establish itself on the surface.
The analysis showed that soil on Mars is formed under similarly arid conditions to the Moon. The sample was taken from Mars’s icy northern arctic region, but separate studies have shown the planet is covered with the same type of soil.
Dr. Tom Pike, who led the research, was quoted by The Daily Telegraph as saying, “We found that even though there is an abundance of ice, Mars has been experiencing a super drought that may well have lasted hundreds of millions of years.
“We think the Mars we know today contrasts sharply with its earlier history, which had warmer and wetter periods and which may have been more suited to life.
“Future NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) missions that are planned for Mars will have to dig deeper to search for evidence of life, which may still be taking refuge underground.”