Four experiments conducted by Chinese researchers since 2019 have shown that algae can survive on Mars-like conditions. This raises the possibility that humanity might be able transform the barren planet into a green, earth-like one in the near future.
According to the Changjiang Daily, based in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province, an experiment lasting seven hours was conducted in September. The algae were carried by a balloon to an altitude 30,000 meters. They survived for four hours under intense ultraviolet light and oxygen deprivation.
The four experiments were conducted by the research team of the Institute of Hydrobiology of China Academy of Sciences in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of north China and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of northwest China.
The experiments proved that the algae are strong. However, further experiments are needed to determine if the species can grow on Mars. Wang Gaohong, a researcher with the Institute of Hydrobiology, stated that the species is not able to multiply on Mars.
Since the time that the first plant was created, algae have slowly improved and changed the Earth’s environment. Director of the Chinese Society of Phycology Liu Yongding believes algae are essential for the origin and evolution of species.
Algae are the primary producers in the earth’s biosphere. They account to 30-40% of all life on Earth and play an important part in maintaining the biosphere stability.
Liu stated that Mars’ conditions are very similar to Earth’s early days. Algae might prove useful in human exploration of the red-colored planet.
Professor Xiao Long from the China University of Geosciences said that it was necessary to test the effects of intense radio radiation from outer space on alga because these experiments will be critical for sending algae to Mars.
Xiao stated that Mars’ atmosphere contains several times as much carbon dioxide as Earth. Algae are carbon dioxide-consuming plants that produce oxygen that is useful for other species.