Mars, Our nearest celestial neighbour after Moon, is a mysterious world with many proofs that show that life once existed on the red planet. Often Venus, Earth, and Mars are referred to as triplets and were very similar in the structure, size, and temperature in the earlier stages of formation. How did life come to existence only on Earth? Venus was very close to the sun to nurture life and had extreme temperature variations. Coming to mars, Martian life did not start once, not twice but thrice!

Its harsh conditions erasing life from the face of mars every single time. Mars and Earth were potential players which were just perfect to thrive in any form of life.  At the distance of 227 million km from the Sun, Mars had just the right temperature, pressure and size to find for life.

Image of Mars Source: NASA(google)

Nearly 4.2 billion years ago Mars was the 1st planet to sustain life in the solar system when Earth was still in its infant stage Mars once had oceans and rivers flowing with liquid water These water sources would host life in the most basic form ie… round or rod-shaped bacteria. Due to its smaller size compared to Earth, Mars cooled a bit faster after the solar system was formed and would have looked like Earth in the present day and Earth would have had volcanoes and liquid molten still cooling to form a solid core. Mars with a well-defined orbit and the stable atmosphere was just a perfect candidate, whereas Earth was still hot with violent volcanic eruptions and liquid molten surface. Nearly 200 million years later after the violent formation of the planets and the Sun, our solar system was slowly being stabilized but the 2nd part of chaos for the inner rocky planets was on its way! The Late heavy bombardment (LHB).The LHB occurred nearly 3.9-4.1 billion years ago was a nightmare to the inner rocky core planets. This LHB is believed to have happened due to the fact that outer gas giant planets underwent orbital migration and in doing so, scattered objects in the asteroid and Kuiper belts into eccentric orbits, and into the path of the terrestrial planets. This made the inner rocky planets suffer heavy bombardment millions of years later they were formed. This was the time that the 1st generation of bacterial Martian life was budding. Mars was hit by an asteroid as big as the size of Pluto which shattered the basic form of life.

This asteroid named Borealis hit the Northern hemisphere of Mars changing its structure creating a creator 6500 miles wide. This slammed into the Mars surface creating a shock wave. The southern hemisphere is at a higher elevation compared to the northern hemisphere and this dissimilarity is called crustal dichotomy. This region is identified today as the Northern Polar Basin. This impact destroyed the thick atmosphere and marked the end of the 1st generation of Martian life. This left the planet in the molten state again and boiled off all the oceans. It took nearly 50 million years for mars to recover and have a solid surface again.

The Borealis impact Source: NASA(google)

The 2nd generation of life on mars kicked off nearly 3.8 billion years ago. It had running water and a stable atmosphere once again. At this point in time, there was life on another planet as well. 56 million km away Earth had similar conditions and was quite stable and life had originated. Thus 2 planets hosted life at this point in time. When everything was going good ice age or severe winter struck very hard on mars and made the 2nd generation of Martians nearly impossible to survive.  This happened due to the fact that mars was tipped over at its end by an angle of 80 degrees. Mars is not as stable as Earth, Earth is fortunate to have its oversized moon and controlling it from being wobbly by exerting a huge gravitational pull. Earth has changed its tilt from 22.1 degrees (during the ice age) to 24.5 degrees (present-day) and thus we are having stable seasons occurring at the same time of the year from centuries. But Mars has 2 moons which are very small to control the motion of the planet and thus resulted in a very wobbly mars. This wobbly nature might have tipped over the mars on its poles and the glaciers eating the entire planet causing all the water, the most essential biochemical to host life to freeze and ending the chances of any potential life on Mars.

Image showing the elevation at different points Source: NASA(google)

As the climate gets tough with super summers and super winters the life might get tougher and adapt to the environment giving rise to the 3rd generation of Martians. But wait! the water is again starting to evaporate owing to the loss of Mars’s atmosphere. It seems that is nature is totally against Mars to nurture life. The Sun is stripping Mars’s atmosphere slowly. For water to be in a liquid state it not only requires the right temperature but also the right pressure. This right amount of pressure is exerted by the presence of a thick atmosphere as we have on earth. But why is Mars’s atmosphere tearing apart? Remember the Borealis impact that struck mars, this must-have affected the molten core of mars and stopped molten core to churn and make the iron core cold thus stopping it from producing a magnetic field. When molten iron is churned continuously a magnetic field is generated which protects the planet from the onslaught of Sun’s harmful radiations and charged subatomic particles called the Solar wind, thus acting as a shield from Solar wind.

Image showing the lack of an atmosphere for mars and a well structured Earth’s atmosphere. Source: NASA(google)

Over millions of years after the bombardment Mars’s core has become cold and it has shut down its magnetic field. Mars is now open to the heavy onslaught of the Sun losing out the thick atmosphere and exposing the surface to harmful radiation like the Ultraviolet and gamma rays. Earth’s magnetic field is still strong even after 4.5 billion years as is deflecting the charged particles from Sun. With no thick atmosphere, no liquid water and exposed to harmful radiations of the Sun, Martians stand nearly no chance of surviving. However, life could thrive even today in underground cavities where there might be liquid water, moist surface and sheltered from the radiation of the Sun, we might not be looking in the right place for proofs of the existence of life. One day we may find and meet the 4th generation of Martians and say Hello there! with love from Earth!

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