The Meridiana Planum region of Mars once had water that was really salty and highly acidic, conditions incredibly hostile to any life forms that we know about. So any organisms that might have once lived in that area on Mars would really have had to beat the odds. But why do we know so much about the likelihood of a particular environment to support life? Mars scientists can thank you and me and our propensity to eat.
Harvard professor of earth and planetary sciences Andrew Knoll spoke to reporters Friday at the AAAS meeting: “The food preservation industry depends highly on people knowing the kind of ionic tolerances of microorganisms. So this isn’t some esoteric thing that a Mars scientist will pull a paper off a shelf. There are thousands of papers out there on the tolerances of microorganisms. And it’s not because most scientists are worried about…it’s because they’re worried about botulism in canned vegetables.” So one science feeds another.
—Steve Mirsky, at the AAAS conference in Boston