What lifeform could live on Jupiter or Mars?
Jupiter is a rather violent planet that has really severe storms and no solid surface. Its surface temperature is a chilly -110°C, but its lower atmosphere is extremely hot. If life did exist here, it would have to live in the upper atmosphere. If it lived in the lower atmosphere, it would burn up in the heat. The lifeform would have to breathe hydrogen or helium. It would have to eat other chemicals, such as methane or ammonia. Any lifeform on Jupiter would be totally different from anything we see here on Earth!
Mars is more likely to have life that is similar to ours here on Earth. Mars' atmosphere is much thinner than ours and consists of mainly carbon dioxide. Its surface temperature is -60°C. The only water that exists on Mars is in its North polar cap. Martian soil is seemingly unable to support life, since it has less organic matter in it than the Moon's surface. If life did exist here, it would probably live under the frozen Northern polar cap. Here tiny anaerobic microbes could live,eat, and breathe.
These microbes could be much like microbes that live right here on Earth. In seemingly inhospitable Antarctica, millions and millions of microbes live under the polar cap. A frozen lake there, known as Lake Vanda, is teeming with life...much to the surprise of hydrologists and marine biologists who found it there. In fact, in recent months there has been much debate as to whether life did exist on Mars long ago. We'll just have to wait and see...
To learn more about possible life on other planets, read Cosmos by Carl Sagan. To learn more about weird life that lives in Earth's southern polar cap, read Water, Ice, and Stone by Green.Submitted by Mike (Wisconsin, USA)
(February 2, 1998)