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  • International Journal of Astrobiology, Volume 6, Issue 2
  • April 2007, pp. 147-152

A possible biogenic origin for hydrogen peroxide on Mars: the Viking results reinterpreted

  • Joop M. Houtkooper (a1) and Dirk Schulze-Makuch (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 May 2007

The adaptability of extremophiles on Earth raises the question of what strategies putative life might have used to adapt to the present conditions on Mars. Here, we hypothesize that organisms might utilize a water–hydrogen peroxide (H2O–H2O2) mixture rather than water as an intracellular liquid. This adaptation would have the particular advantages in the Martian environment of providing a low freezing point, a source of oxygen and hygroscopicity. The findings by the Viking experiments are reinterpreted in light of this hypothesis. Our conclusion is that the hitherto mysterious oxidant in the Martian soil, which evolves oxygen when humidified, might be H2O2 of biological origin. This interpretation has consequences for site selection for future missions to search for life on Mars.

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International Journal of Astrobiology
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