Using a unique device known as the Andromeda Chamber to simulate conditions found on Mars, University of Arkansas researchers discovered that certain microorganisms called methanogens could grow at low pressures. Their findings imply that life could have existed on the Red Planet in the past, present, or that it could do so at some point in the future. Associate professor of biological sciences Tim Kral presented the preliminary results at a bioastronomy conference in Australia in July. “Our goal is first to get the organisms to grow well, then systematically experiment with conditions found on Mars,” said Kral. He and his team first grew test tube cultures of various methanogens in a Mars soil simulant called JSC Mars-1. Derived from altered volcanic ash, it approximates the composition, grain size, density, and magnetic properties of Martian soil.