Wednesday, February 23
Martian Lake Found
Sounds like SF doesn't it? But according to this report in Nature, an area up to 500 miles in width and length and 50m deep at the equator of Mars has been found to consist of ice floes.
Mars ice on the left, terrestrial ice floes on the right for comparison
(Copyright Nature magazine)
Approximately 7% of Earth's surface is covered by sea ice, which is colonized principally by psychrophilic microorganisms. This extensive community of microorganisms contains algae (mostly diatoms), protozoa, and bacteria. Recent investigations indicate that the sea ice bacteria fall into four major groups: the proteobacteria, the Cytophaga-Flavobacterium-Bacteroides group, and the high and low mol percent gram-positive bacteria. Archaea associated with sea ice communities have also been reported. Several novel bacterial genera and species have been discovered, including Polaromonas, Polaribacter, Psychroflexus, Gelidibacter, and Octadecabacter; many others await study. Some of the gram-negative sea ice bacteria have among the lowest maximum temperatures for growth known, <10°c>
Psychroflexus bacteria from the Antarctic
There's obviously much speculation as to whether something similar may be living in the Martian ice: extremophile bacteria have been found living in similar environments like the McMurdo dry valleys in Antarctica, and buried deep in ice millions of years old in Lake Vostok. It may be just a matter of time before life is found on Mars.
11/28/2004 - 12/05/2004