Earth’s Weird Life Helps Curiosity’s Search
Exotic kingdoms and bizarre creatures deep beneath the sea or within the bowels of the Earth have been the stuff of myths, science fiction and steampunk fantasy since before Jules Verne first set pen to paper. However, a real-life realm of strange beings lurks within undersea volcanoes and understanding that ecosystem on Earth helps in the search for past or present life on Mars.
“We’re interested in the microbes in the deep rock, and the best place to study them is at hydrothermal vents at undersea volcanoes,” said James Holden of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in a press release. “Warm water there brings the nutrient and energy sources these microbes need….Models have predicted the ‘habitability’ of the rocky environments we’re most interested in, but we wanted to ground-truth these models and refine them.”