“Mushrooms” are found on Mars and are still growing. What is it?

Mars is very “lively” now, and multiple human spacecraft are visiting this red planet. my country’s Tianwen-1 is orbiting Mars and will choose an opportunity to land on the surface of Mars in the near future. NASA’s Curiosity, Perseverance rover, InSight Mars lander, and the Witt Mars helicopter are working on the surface of Mars.

The reason why human beings are keen to explore Mars is because there is a lot of evidence that Mars has an environment similar to that of the Earth in the distant past, with a large amount of liquid water covering its surface, which may give birth to life. Although the current Mars is very desolate, in the future, through the transformation of the Martian environment, this red planet may become the second home of mankind in the universe.

In fact, astronomers speculate that some life may be hidden on Mars, which seems to be lifeless today. According to a research paper to be published in Advances in Microbiology[1], the Curiosity rover photographed something that resembles a “mushroom”. Scientists from the Harvard-Smithsonian Institution and the Institute of Microbiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences It is believed that it is very likely to be life on Mars, and a certain kind of fungus is growing on Mars. This major discovery has aroused heated discussion among scientists.

When Curiosity was traveling on Mars, it photographed very special white spheres that emerged from the Martian soil, looking like puffballs growing on Earth. Initially, astronomers thought that the spheres were nothing but special-shaped Martian stones.

However, when Curiosity observed these spheres for many days, it made unexpected discoveries:

After only a few Martian days (1 Martian day is approximately 24.6 hours in length), the size of the sphere became larger, and new spheres appeared on the ground, which looked very much like a growing fungus. In addition, some “Martian mushrooms” will grow back after being crushed by Curiosity’s wheels. Even on the Curiosity Rover, a black fungus sample appeared to have grown. So, are these really Martian life?

On earth, fungi generally grow in humid environments. On the other hand, Mars is extremely dry, and there is no trace of water. Does this mean that there are no conditions for fungi to grow on Mars?

The photos returned by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show that, in addition to the polar regions, other areas of Mars may also have water, or even liquid. When the Martian summer comes, there are obvious dark stripes on some mountain slopes, several meters in width and hundreds of meters in length, and they grow at a rate of 5 to 10 meters per day. In the cold season, these stripes will disappear again.

This phenomenon is best explained by water flow, but this water is not fresh water, but salt water with a high concentration of salt. Because the summer temperature on Mars is not very high, fresh water is also easy to freeze. For salt water mixed with high concentration of salt, its freezing point can drop to more than ten degrees below zero, and they can remain liquid at lower temperatures.

Astronomers believe that some areas of Mars are likely to still have liquid water. Previous studies have shown that there are even lakes of liquid water beneath the surface of Mars. We have reason to believe that Mars still has the conditions for life to survive.

In addition, NASA’s Martian photos also show that in the spring of Mars, a large black net-like structure appears on the surface, which can grow up to 300 meters in length, and disappear again in the winter. This situation repeats every year. Astronomers speculate that this is a black fungus, lichen, mold or algae on Mars.

If there is life on Mars, they may have originated from Earth. The Mars probes launched by humans in the early days did not undergo strict sterilization. Some earth microorganisms may follow the probes to reach Mars. In addition, the rocks on the earth will be blown into space due to the impact of asteroids and fall to Mars, which will also bring life to the earth.

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