Scientists from MIT have said that if life on Mars does exist, it wouldn’t be too different from that on Earth.
"We think that if there is life on Mars, it could be related to us," Discovery News quoted Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineer and scientist Christopher Carr as saying.
"We would feel awfully silly if we spent a lot of time looking for something that was very different and didn't spend time looking for something that was very similar. Life could have arisen independently, but that is not the most likely scenario,” he added.
MIT is developing, along with NASA, a project known as the Search for Extraterrestrial Genomes (SETG) that would attempt to isolate, amplify, detect and identify nucleic acids on Mars.
Carr said that Martian DNA could remain viable for about one million years or so underground, where it would be shielded from the harsh ultraviolet rays and space radiation that sterilize the planet''s surface.
"The problem is that there are processes at work on Mars that destroy organic materials. If you want to have a fighting chance of getting to material that has been unaffected by these processes, it's good to go down," Carr said.
It will take another two years to refine SETG technology before it's ready for field tests in Chile's Atacama Desert or the dry valleys of Antarctica -- both of which resemble the cold, dry deserts of Mars.