'Large Regions' of Mars Are Habitable

But no sign of aliens, spaceships: researchers
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Dec 12, 2011 7:45 AM CST
This undated file photo taken by the NASA Hubble Space Telescope shows the planet Mars.   (AP Photo/NASA Hubble Space Telescope, File)

(Newser) – More fascinating news about the potential for life on Mars. Some 3% of Mars' volume is capable of sustaining life, Australian scientists have found—more than the 1% of Earth that contains living things. Researchers based their findings on a comparison between the two planets' temperature and pressure attributes, AFP reports. Rather than following earlier studies' lead and examining a single area of Mars, the scientists used a "comprehensive compilation" of the entire planet, making use of decades of findings.

"What we tried to do, simply, was take almost all of the information we could and put it together and say 'is the big picture consistent with there being life on Mars?'" says lead researcher Charley Lineweaver. "And the simple answer is yes. There are large regions of Mars that are compatible with terrestrial life." Most of that 3%, however, is underground, where pressure is high enough for water to exist, and where it might be warm enough to sustain microbial life. The study won't appeal to people who "want to talk to some intelligent aliens who could build spaceships," says Lineweaver. But "if you're interested in the origin of life and how likely life is to get started on other planets, that's what relevant here." (Read more Mars stories.)

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