Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan

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Professor Atreya discusses candidates for microbial life in space

Posted: October 1, 2014

Professor Atreya discusses candidates for microbial life in space

Professor Sushil Atreya spoke with the Times of India in a recent story titled, “Searching for Earth 2.0.”

The article explains that although Venus and Mars were ruled out in the 1980s as candidates for life beyond Earth, it is possible that Mars was able to sustain life in the past.

"Three things are essential for life as we know it: liquid water, nutrients, and energy. Amongst extraterrestrial bodies in our solar system, Mars had, and could still have, the greatest potential of sustaining microbial life. Mars was warmer and wetter in the past; it has the minerals that contain key nutrient elements — C, H, N, O, P and S — and plentiful solar and chemical energy. If liquid water exists on Mars today, the water table would be several to tens of kilometres beneath the surface, where microbial life may be possible," Atreya told the Times of India.

"Besides Mars, Europa, a moon of Jupiter, with its likely subsurface ocean; Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, with possible liquid water in its interior; and Titan, another moon of Saturn with possible subsurface ocean; are likely candidates for microbial life," Atreya continued.

To read the full story, please visit the Times of India.

(Image Credit: jpl.nasa.gov)

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