A group from McGill College in Canada used miniaturised scientific devices and specialised microbiology evaluation methods to look at permafrost – a completely frozen layer under the Earth’s floor – within the Arctic, probably the most comparable surroundings to the Crimson Planet on Earth.
As an alternative of getting to return samples to a laboratory for evaluation – which might be virtually unimaginable on Mars – the instrument permits researchers to detect and analyse life.
“Mars is a really chilly and dry planet, with a permafrost terrain that appears rather a lot like what we discover within the Canadian excessive Arctic,” mentioned Dr Jacqueline Goordial, from the group.
“Because of this, we selected a web site about 900 km from the North Pole as a Mars analogue to take samples and take a look at our strategies.”
As a part of a examine revealed in Frontiers in Microbiology, the scientists used a conveyable, miniature DNA sequencing gadget known as the Oxford Nanopore MiniON to detect life.
The researchers confirmed the gadget was able to working below excessive environmental circumstances, and that it could possibly be mixed with different methods to detect microbial life.
“Through the use of the DNA sequencer with the opposite methodology in our platform, we had been capable of first discover energetic life, after which establish it and analyse its genomic potential, that’s, the sorts of useful genes it has,” Dr Goordial mentioned.
“The varieties of analyses carried out by our platform are usually carried out within the laboratory, after transport samples again from the sector.
“We present that microbial ecology research can now be achieved in actual time, straight on web site – together with in excessive environments just like the Arctic and Antarctic.”
“Profitable detection of nucleic acids in Martian permafrost samples would supply unambiguous proof of life on one other world,” mentioned fellow researcher Professor Lyle Whyte.