The progress of the first Chinese mission to Mars, launched last week is being monitored alongside a group of researchers from the University of Science and Technology of Macau (MUST, an acronym in English). Among them is André Antunes, a Portuguese biologist who’s mission is to discover signs of life in the most unlikely places.
What might the Pedra de Lume salt flats, located in the crater of a Cape Verdean volcano, and the still largely obscure surface of Mars have in common? If there is – or may have been – life on the red planet, it is more likely to be similar to what is found in similar environments, with extreme conditions, such as those found in the saltwater mirrors that give the name to the island of Sal .
In Macau almost a year ago, the biologist André Antunes took on the mission of discovering and studying the forms and signs of life that are found in unlikely ecosystems, where, at the outset, the very existence of life would seem unfeasible. The goal? Realize the extent to which the hostile reality of Mars may or may not hold life.