The keys to finding extraterrestrial life are in Chile: the impressive discovery made by NASA in the Atacama Desert


That the Atacama Desert is the driest in the world and that its conditions are similar to those of Mars, is a topic we have heard many times, so it is not strange that NASA has decided to try in this area of ​​Chile more than once , the robots that will explore the Red planet.

However, data collected by a group of scientists from Yale and NUS College in Singapore, and published in the journal Frontiers of Microbiology, give more relevance to studies conducted in our desert.

According to the report, one of the A robot that NASA tests in the Atacama Desert found samples that could help humanity find extraterrestrial life.

The scientific publication notes that the rover extracted soil samples from below the Earth that contained strange, highly specialized microbes that were scattered in spots. These microbes – according to research quoted by the British newspaper The Independent – show a special ability to survive with very limited quantities of water and nutrients in the soil, as well as their chemistry.

In this way, scientists trust that the landing module will be able to search successfully for any potential life on Mars or elsewhere, but also that these particularly resistant microbes may be similar to those that currently exist on the red planet.

"The geochemical analysis indicated soluble salts and microbiology that influenced the bioavailability of water, especially in deeper sediments. Colonization was also irregular and the uncolonized sediment was associated with indicators of extreme osmotic challenge. The study identifies the link between biocomplexity, moisture and geochemistry in sediments similar to Mars, at the limit of habitability and demonstrates the feasibility of the drill mounted on a vehicle for the future recovery of Mars samples, "the document says.

The Importance of Discovery

Stephen Pointing, a professor at Yale-NUS College in Singapore who led microbial research, said the results of his work are critical because "We have shown that a robot robot can recover the soil below the surface in the desert most similar to Mars on Earth "

"This is important because most scientists agree that any life on Mars would have to occur below the surface to escape harsh surface conditions where high radiation, low temperature and lack of water cause life is unlikely," he said .

"We found microbes adapted to high levels of salt, similar to what could be expected in the basement of Mars, these microbes are very different from those that occur on the surface of the deserts," explained Professor Pointing.

It should be remembered that NASA and the European Space Agency are working to send Mars, by 2020, robots that are capable of pursuing life beneath the surface of the red planet.

So this type of research helps ensure that missions succeed and test the way robots should be able to cope with the hostile environment on Mars.


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