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英语科普知识:火星表面以下的咸水

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英语科普知识:火星表面以下的咸水
周一,研究人员报道,火星表面以下的咸水可能含有足够的氧气来支持数十亿年前在地球上出现和繁衍的微生物生命。
他们在《自然地球科学》杂志上报道说,在一些地方,氧气甚至能使原始的多细胞动物如海绵存活下来。
“我们发现,火星上的盐水——含高浓度盐的盐水——”能够含有足够的氧气供微生物呼吸,”主要作者Vlada Stamenkovic说,她是加利福尼亚喷气推进实验室的理论物理学家。
这彻底改变了我们对Mars、现在和过去生活潜力的理解。
到目前为止,人们一直认为红色星球上的微量氧气不足以维持甚至微生物的生命。
斯塔门科维奇说,我们从未想到,由于氧气在大气中的稀有性,约占0.14%,所以氧气能够对火星上的生命起作用。
相比之下,赋予生命的气体占我们呼吸的空气的21%。
在地球上,有氧-即氧呼吸-生命形式与光合作用一起进化,将二氧化碳转化为O2。这种气体在复杂生命的出现中起着关键作用,特别是在约23.5亿年前所谓的大氧合事件之后
但是,我们的星球上也有微生物——在海底,在沸腾的温泉中——这些微生物在缺氧的环境中生存。
这就是为什么当我们想到Mars上的生命时,我们研究了厌氧生活的潜力,Stamenkovic说。

Salty water just below the surface of Mars could hold enough oxygen to support the kind of microbial life that emerged and flourished on Earth billions of years ago, researchers reported on Monday.

In some locations, the amount of oxygen available could even keep alive a primitive, multicellular animal such as a sponge, they reported in the journal Nature Geosciences.

We discovered that brines -water with high concentrations of salt- "on Mars can contain enough oxygen for microbes to breathe," said lead author Vlada Stamenkovic, a theoretical physicist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

This fully revolutionizes our understanding of the potential for life on Mars, today and in the past.

Up to now, it had been assumed that the trace amounts of oxygen on the Red Planet were insufficient to sustain even microbial life.

We never thought that oxygen could play a role for life on Mars due to its rarity in the atmosphere, about 0.14 percent, Stamenkovic said.

By comparison, the life-giving gas makes up 21 percent of the air we breathe.

On Earth, aerobic -that is, oxygen breathing- life-forms evolved together with photosynthesis, which converts CO2 into O2. The gas played a critical role in the emergence of complex life, notable after the so-called Great Oxygenation Event some 2.35 billion years ago.

But our planet also harbors microbes - at the bottom of the ocean, in boiling hotsprings - that subsist in environments deprived of oxygen.

That’s why - whenever we thought of life on Mars - we studied the potential for anaerobic life, Stamenkovic said.

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