The biological potential of Mars, the early Earth, and Europa

B. M. Jakosky, E. L. Shock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


The potential biomass that could have existed on Mars is constrained by the total amount of energy available to construct it. From an inventory of the available geochemical sources of energy, we estimate that from the time of the onset of the visible geologic record 4 b.y. ago to the present, as much as 20 g cm-2 of biota could have been created. This is the same amount that could have been constructed on the early Earth in only 100 million years. This indicates that there likely was sufficient energy available to support an origin of life on Mars but not sufficient energy to create a ubiquitous and lush biosphere. Similar calculations for Europa suggest that even less geochemical energy would have been available there.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19359-19364
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue numberE8
StatePublished - Aug 25 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Oceanography


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