Study: Surface of Mars Devoid of Life
By Ker Than
posted: 29 January 2007
10:34 am ET
This story was updated at 11:50 am EST.
The last refuge for Martian life, if it exists, might be deep below the planet’s surface and beyond the reach of any currently planned missions, according to a new study.
After mapping cosmic radiation levels at various depths on Mars, researchers have concluded that any life within the first several yards of the planet’s surface would be killed by lethal doses of cosmic radiation.
The finding will be detailed in the Jan. 30 issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
Unlike Earth, Mars is no longer protected by a global magnetic field or thick atmosphere. As a result, the planet has been vulnerable to radiation from space for billions of years.
“Even the hardiest cells we know of could not possibly survive the cosmic radiation near the surface of Mars for that long,” said study leader Lewis Dartnell of University College London.