The anaerobic community of an estuarine environment: an analogue for life on Mars

Curtis-Harper, E.; Pearson, V. K.; Schwenzer, S. P. and Olsson-Francis, K. (2014). The anaerobic community of an estuarine environment: an analogue for life on Mars. In: 12th Early Career Planetary Scientists’ Meeting, 19-20 Feb 2015, University of Kent, UK Planetary Forum.

Abstract

The first step in finding potential extant, and/or extinct, life on Mars is to understand the potential biological processes that may have occurred on Mars and identify biosignatures that such processes would generate. This is dependent on identifying and characterising microbial life in suitable terrestrial analogue environments and reliably distinguishing between biotic and abiotic processes. Chemolithotrophic anaerobic microorganisms, such as methanogens, are ideal organisms for investigating potential life in the martian sub-surface as they represent deeply branched terrestrial species that would likely survive there. Furthermore, the carbon dioxide and hydrogen required for their metabolism are provided by the approximately 96% carbon dioxide atmosphere and hydrogen produced in serpentinisation and other reactions.

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