Data collected by Perseverance suggests that Jezero Crater was once a reservoir fed by an ancient river, scientists report in the scientific journal Science Advanced. This discovery strengthens their hopes of soon finding evidence of life on Mars. We asked Dr. Michal Jabrok from the School of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology at Jagiellonian University, and a member of the Polish Astrobiological Society, what this could really mean for humanity.

Scientists are searching for evidence of life on Mars

– We do not yet have reports that definitively indicate the existence of life on Mars. For now, this is just speculation, and as Carl Sagan used to say – “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” which means that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence – points out Dr. Michal Gabrok. He adds that we already have strong evidence that signs of life, such as fatty acids, sugars, amino acids and even nitrogenous bases – the compounds that build our cells – arise spontaneously in space. – Finding them elsewhere does not prove the existence of life there, but it could be important evidence – points out Dr. Michal Jabrok.

The rest of the article is below the video

What does the discovery of life on Mars mean for humanity? We have to ask philosophers about this, because it will mean something different for each of us. However, when it comes to science, we can talk about a certain discrepancy between observations. On the one hand, the organic compounds that make up our lives seem to be common in space. This suggests that life, if it arose spontaneously, must also be common. On the other hand, it seems to us – at least so far – that we are alone in the universe.

Dr. Michael JabrokFaculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology of Jagiellonian University

According to Dr. Jabrok, it is important to note the differences between life in the form of single-celled organisms and complex, multicellular life, or intelligent life. As the expert explains, the first single-celled organisms on our planet appeared immediately after the formation and cooling of our planet, about 4 billion years ago. However, multicellular organisms only appeared about 0.6 billion years ago.

We still do not know all the evolutionary stages that enabled the emergence and development of multicellular organisms, but this process took several billion years. The evolution of intelligent life capable of communicating with us is a less well-known and difficult process to study, because we have only one example of this phenomenon – our history. However, in theory, the discovery of a more advanced alien civilization is entirely possible.

Dr. Michael JabrokFaculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology of Jagiellonian University

Jabrok points out that the most advanced civilizations are not silent. They emit various effects of their existence, for example technological effects. For example, it gives the radio waves we emit, which are used for communications, and which escape into space. He says: – In theory, anyone could pick them up there. Traces of these alien civilizations can be found, but not from a Mars rovers. For this task, we have special telescopes used for scientific measurements, which can also be used to search for abnormal signals. We have recorded many of them, but so far we cannot explain their source. We have not yet been able to pick up a signal that would undoubtedly indicate the presence of an alien civilization – confirms Dr. Michal Gabrok.

In addition, there are still places on Mars that are beyond our reach. Jabrok states that even on Earth we find bacteria living at a depth of up to 5 kilometers below the surface. Given where they live, their research is difficult and we still don't know much about them. It cannot be ruled out that if life arose on Mars, it would also have colonized the planet in its depths. It is not known when and if we will be able to conduct any drilling on Mars to examine the planet at great depths.

Discovering traces of life on Mars — life that still exists — would raise ethical dilemmas. We will have to answer the question to what extent we should intervene in the environment of an alien planet. Our presence would mean that we would pollute Mars with our lives, our microbes, and this could lead to the extinction of local organisms. However, if we discover traces of life that once existed and became extinct, it will certainly be a new impetus to conduct more research and go to Mars and investigate its past.

Dr. Michael JabrokFaculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology of Jagiellonian University

Karolina Modzelewska, journalist at Wirtualna Polska

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