communication. We need to go beyond our current concept of life.
For centuries, humanity has been asking itself the question if we are alone in this universe. There are many legends about it. For scientists, looking for signs of life in space is a challenge — made even more difficult because we still don’t have enough knowledge and technology to accurately explore the near corners of the solar system. At the same time, researchers realize that “experts from other planets” may look very different from science fiction movies, and may transcend the human definition of life.
The search for life on Mars begins with a five-centimetre hole hollowed out in rust-colored rock. Millimeter by millimeter, the rover perseveres into solid ground. The car patiently endures the impact of gravel grains carried by strong winds. When weather conditions permit, the Creativity helicopter accompanying the rover takes off. The drone’s sensors monitor the Martian landscape – rocky ridges stretching to the horizon, dry valleys and plains covered with red sand waves.
Although the place does not look very friendly, everything indicates that billions of years ago it was not an endless desert. Long ago, the Martian River flowed below the bottom of the Jezero Crater, whose sediments could stand the test of time. Finding them is the main goal of the Perseverance mission. So far, the rover has collected 18 samples of rock, sand, and atmosphere, and is currently exploring the top of the crater, where it may collect 20 more. Scientists and space enthusiasts hope that at least one of them will contain evidence of life that originated long ago on the Red Planet.
The branch of science known as astrobiology deals with the study of potential life in outer space. It investigates the factors that allowed life processes to emerge and develop in the known universe, and investigates whether life exists or has existed on other planets. Astrobiology is an interdisciplinary and complex field that makes use of the latest discoveries in biology, chemistry, physics, and geology, as well as the space sciences.
Where can life hide?
In the solar system, the most popular candidate for finding signs of life is our cosmic neighbor – Mars. As Dr. Ligia Fonseca Coelho of the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell University told tvn24.pl, the list also includes Jupiter’s satellite Europa and Triton, Neptune’s moon and two moons of Saturn: Enceladus and Titan. The latter is particularly interesting because of the research on so-called alien life.
“In this way, we informally identify life processes that do not depend on water,” she explained. – Titan is the only body in the solar system other than Earth where there are reservoirs of liquids, but instead of water, they are filled with liquid hydrocarbons. If methane-dependent life is found in our area, we may find traces of it on Titan.
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