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TIP. Revista especializada en ciencias químico-biológicas

versão impressa ISSN 1405-888X

TIP vol.8 no.2 México Dez. 2005

 

Artículos de revisión

Búsqueda de vida en Marte

Search of life on Mars

Rafael Navarro-González1 

1Lab. de Química de Plasmas y Estudios Planetarios, Instituto de Ciencias Nucleares, UNAM, Circuito Exterior, Ciudad Universitaria, Apdo. Postal 70-543, México D.F. E-mail: navarro@nucleares.unam.mx


Resumen

La misión astrobiológica más importante que se ha realizado hasta la fecha ha sido sin duda el proyecto Vikingo de la NASA. Esta misión consistió en tres experimentos biológicos especialmente diseñados para la búsqueda de indicadores de vida en las capas superficiales del suelo marciano. Los tres experimentos dieron resultados positivos. Sin embargo, el análisis de materia orgánica en el suelo marciano demostró la ausencia total de carbono orgánico. Este hallazgo fue utilizado como uno de los argumentos más sólidos en contra de la existencia de vida en la superficie del planeta Marte. Como preparación para futuras misiones a Marte en búsqueda de vida es necesario probar los instrumentos en localidades terrestres que pudieran ser ambientes análogos a Marte. Uno de los desiertos más áridos del planeta es el de Atacama, en el norte de Chile. Estudios químicos y microbiológicos del suelo de Atacama sugieren que el corazón del desierto es en realidad un buen análogo de Marte, ya que no posee vida macroscópica y microscópica, tiene niveles muy bajos de materia orgánica, y sus suelos son muy reactivos. En colaboración con científicos franceses y estadounidenses, estamos preparando una misión robótica dirigida por la NASA para la búsqueda de vida pasada o presente en Marte por lo que el Desierto de Atacama en Chile es el escenario para la preparación de esta misión espacial.

Palabras Clave: Ambientes terrestres análogos a Marte; desierto de Atacama; Marte; Misión Vikingo; vida extraterrestre

Abstract

Undoubtedly the NASA Viking Project has been the most outstanding astrobiological mission conducted so far. This mission consisted of three biological experiments specially designed for the search of life indicators in the upper layers of the Martian soil. The three experiments yielded positive results, however the analysis of organic matter in the Martian soil showed the lack of organic carbon. In order to prepare future missions, it is important to test the instruments beforehand. This could be done in terrestrial places which are similar to Mars. One of such places is the Atacama desert in northern Chile. This desert is one of the most arid places on Earth. Chemical and microbiological studies of the soil in this area suggest that the driest core of the desert is similar to Mars because there is no macroscopic or microscopic life, the amounts of organic matter are low and the soils are very reactive. In collaboration with French and American scientists, we are developing a NASA robotic mission for the search of extinct or extant life in Mars. We are working in the Atacama desert in Chile as the setting to prepare the space mission.

Key words: Terrestrial environments analogs of Mars; Atacama Desert; Mars; Viking Mission; Extraterrestrial life

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Agradecimientos

La investigación científica del autor fue realizada con los apoyos económicos otorgados por la UNAM (DGAPA- IN101903), CONACyT (45810-F) y el programa de la NASA (NASA Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets Program).

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Recibido: 21 de Septiembre de 2005; Aprobado: 08 de Noviembre de 2005

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