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Earth Mars Science

Earth's Own Mars, the Atacama Desert Yields Amazing Extremophile Microbes 63

A University of Colorado-Boulder team has uncovered extremophile microbes in the rocky, high-altitude Atacama desert on the Chile-Argentina border "which seem to have a different way of converting energy than their cousins elsewhere in the world." According to the researchers, "[T]hese are very different than anything else that has been cultured. Genetically, they’re at least 5 percent different than anything else in the DNA database of 2.5 million sequences." It's an exciting frontier for biologists in part because of the recurring interest in the possibility that life has existed (or does exist) on Mars; the dry, volcanic Atacama is often compared to the Martian surface.
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Earth's Own Mars, the Atacama Desert Yields Amazing Extremophile Microbes

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  • Re:BS comparison (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kermidge ( 2221646 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @07:57PM (#40278523) Journal

    Seems to me the operant words from the article were the following:

    "With their rocky terrain, thin atmosphere and high radiation, the Atacama volcanoes are some of the most similar places on Earth to the Red Planet."

    “ 'If we know, on Earth, what the outer limits for life were, and they know what the paleoclimates on Mars were like, we may have a better idea of what could have lived there,' he [Steve Schmidt] said."

    I may easily have missed it in the article but I saw no direct comparisons made apart from "rocky soils in the Martian-like landscape" which refers to appearance, and by my lights "most similar" does not mean "the same."

    What interested me was the five percent or more difference of these various critters from current DNA database. What fascinates me is that Life has of late been found in places we'd thought it to be least likely to impossible.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser