Since 2019, four experiments by Chinese researchers have shown that algae can survive in Mars-like environments. This raises hopes that humanity may be able to transform the barren planet into an Earth-like green one in future.
According to a report by the Changjiang Daily in Wuhan, central China, the experiment took place in September. It involved algae being carried by a helium balloon up to 30,000m. They survived for four hour in temperatures below minus 30 Celsius and intense ultraviolet light.
The four experiments were carried out by the Institute of Hydrobiology of China Academy of Sciences. They were carried out in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
The experiments showed that algae are resilient. Wang Gaohong from the Institute of Hydrobiology said that further experiments are needed in order to find out if the species can grow and multiply on Mars.
Since the beginning of time, algae have slowly changed the Earth’s environment. Director of the Chinese Society of Phycology Liu Yongding believes that algae are crucial in the evolution and origin of all 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 said that Mars is very similar to Earth in terms of conditions. Algae may be useful for human exploration on the red planet.
Professor Xiao Long of the China University of Geosciences stated that it is important to test the effects of intense radiation coming from outer space onto algae because the experiments will be crucial in taking algae to Mars.
Xiao stated that Mars’ atmosphere contains several times as much carbon dioxide as Earth. Algae eat carbon dioxide and make oxygen that makes it possible for other species to live.