• Question: is there life on mars or any other planet?

    Asked by 08cgjw to Mark, Jo, Tim on 24 Jun 2010 in Categories: . This question was also asked by coolbinz.
    • Photo: Mark Lancaster

      Mark Lancaster answered on 13 Jun 2010:


      There is not life on Mars at the moment (well not on the surface, there may be some primitive micro-organisms deeper inside where it is warmer) but in all likelihood there was in the past when it was warmer. There is increasing evidence that water must have flowed on Mars and it has a similar chemical make-up to the earth and also has an, albeit thin, atmosphere so given this there probably was life until the planet got too cold to sustain it. I’d say there is almost certainly life on other planets just from a probability point of view – there are at least 100 billion galaxies and in each galaxy typically a 100 billion stars many of which (10% or so) are surrounded by planets. You can then define the criteria for life: starting from the star the planet is orbiting – the star must burn light elements to heavy ones; to the planet’s composition: it should be solid and its location: right distance from the star to allow liquid water to form e.g. in our solar system Venus is just slightly too close (and so too hot) to the sun and Mars slightly too far (and so too cold) and with these criteria work out the odds that one of these (thousand billion billion) planets satisfies these conditions and while this is not an exact probabilistic determination the odds are certainly in favour… (we still don’t know having got the conditions for life: water the right elements, light from the sun how life itself actually started ie how we got from the right atoms to self replicating DNA). Personally I don’t think we are “special” in any way – there could well be advanced lifeforms out there who got bored of the internet billions of years ago !

    • Photo: Tim Craggs

      Tim Craggs answered on 24 Jun 2010:


      We have not found life on Mars or any other planet yet. But that does not mean that it doesn’t exist. A friend of mine works as an astronomer looking for earth like planets around other suns, in the hope that they might have earth type life. He hasn’t found any yet though.

    • Photo: Joanna Buckley

      Joanna Buckley answered on 24 Jun 2010:


      Hiya 08cgjw and coolbinz! I’ve not answered a question from you for a few days… how you been? 🙂

      We’ve not found life on Mars but we have found bacteria on Earth which can survive in extremes. They’re found happily growing in hydrothermal vents under the sea in extreme pressure, with no air and light and a temperature of about 130 degrees! Those little guys seem to exist anywhere so life can exist in extreme environments.

      I do think there’s life out there. Maybe not like us. Maybe they’ll have a really good football team. How can there not be life out there? It’s hard to believe that we are the only ones floating around on a rock. The diameter of the observable universe is a whopping about 93 billion light-years. That is big… there must be others out there. Maybe they’re looking for us right now 🙂

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