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The discovery of liquid water-related sulfates on Mars is of great astrobiological …


Biology Articles » Astrobiology » UV Shielding Properties of Jarosite Vs. Gypsum: Astrobiological Implications for Mars » Introduction

Introduction
- UV Shielding Properties of Jarosite Vs. Gypsum: Astrobiological Implications for Mars

Unlike Earth, there is a significant amount of UV flux on Mars, mainly due to the influence of the shorter wavelengths UVC (100-280 nm) and UVB (280-315nm). Various works on the biological effects of UV radiation[1-3] and the amount of Martian radiation [4] have established that even the present-day instantaneous Martian UV flux would not in itself prevent life. Nevertheless, it is a fact that this UV flux contributes coupled with the lack of liquid water and extreme low temperatures, to the biologically inhospitable nature of the Martian surface. From the astrobiological point of view, these factors render a practical consequence for the exploration and detection of life on Mars: any living organism, as we know it, should have preferentially developed in a particular sub-surface microenvironment able to protect it from the harsh conditions on the surface. Terrestrial endolithic communities that live in the subsurface layers of rock that provide appropriate microenvironments against extreme external conditions have been proposed [5-8] as possible analogs to life on Mars. Extant Martian life would require strong UV shielding, which, in accordance with our experiments, could be perfectly accomplished by certain minerals already discovered on Mars.


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