Earth life can grow on Mars

Saw this article earlier this week:  German Scientists Grow Lichen Under Mars Conditions.

Are you lichen this experiment?  Photo: German Aerospace Center (DLR)

This is really the gist of the article:
There they were subjected to the same atmospheric, temperature, radiation and pressure conditions they would experience if they were on the Martian surface.
This could be a blessing and a curse for future exploration.

First, if lichens can grow in the Martian soil, there might be a promise for a certain kinds of plants, and hence an independent food source?  OK, so who wants to eat moss?  But with genetic engineering what it is, this could be the promise of the future of Martian colonization.

On the other hand, it could be a challenge for those trying to find independent life on Mars.  Last year, I mentioned that Guy Consolmagno had mentioned that one problem with human exploration of Mars is that if we contaminate the soil with Earth bacteria, etc., we may not be able to tell what was Martian and what is a transplant.  Now, it looks even more likely.

Interestingly, Utah high school student Jane Cox may have a solution.  She suggested looking at the amino acids of Earth life vs. those not found on Earth.  You can read the whole story here.  She's gotten the attention of the ESA.

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