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Detecting life traces in extreme cold and dry conditions on earth: possible analogues of life on Mars

AuthorsWierzchos, Jacek ; Ríos, Asunción de los ; Ascaso, Carmen
KeywordsMicrobial ecology
EDS technique
Ross Desert
Issue DateNov-2004
PublisherEuropean Space Agency
CitationProceedings of the Third European Workshop on Exo-Astrobiology, 18 - 20 November 2003, Madrid, Spain. Ed.: R. A. Harris & L. Ouwehand. ESA SP-545, Noordwijk, Netherlands: ESA Publications Division
SeriesESA SP
545: 67-69(2004)
AbstractMicrobial life in the hars conditions of Antarctica's cold desert may be considered an analogue of potential life on early Mars. The microbial ecology of these lithobiontic, extremophile microorganism communities could provide clues to the challenging question of how life (if ever oresent) became extinct on Mars. Application of the SEM-BSE plus EDS technique has allowed us to demonstrate the presence of microbial fossils and biomarkers within Antarctic sandstone rocks collected from Ross Desert for the first time. There is an obvious need for extensive further work on live, dead, mummified and mineralized lithobiontic Antarctic microorganisms. The in situ examination of the interior of Antarctic rocks might represent the best option available to improve our knowledge on these extreme cold and dry microbial habitats and it is foreseen that this type of work will have applications in future astrobiological investigations performed on geological material obtained from Mars.
Description3 páginas, 4 figuras
Publisher version (URL)http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu/full/2004ESASP.545...67W
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