Sign up FAST! Login

Microbes Discovered in Subglacial Antarctic Lake May Hint at Life in Space

Microbes Discovered in Subglacial Antarctic Lake May Hint at Life in Space

Stashed in: Science!, Star Wars!, The Universe, Awesome, SETI, the new, Life finds a way.

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

Biologists have extracted mineral-eating microbes from a lake buried a half mile below the surface of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, according to a new study published in Nature.


Share on emailEmail

More »

Earlier claims of similar microbes drawn from a different Antarctic lake, say the study's authors, were controversial because the samples had been contaminated—a problem eliminated in this case by especially careful drilling techniques.

"The report is a landmark for the polar sciences," writes Martyn Tranter, a geochemist at the University of Bristol, England, who was not involved in the study, in a commentary also published in Nature.

It's also a landmark in the science of astrobiology, the search for life on other worlds. In recent years, scientists have come to understand that life can thrive in a much wider range of environments than they once believed, including superheated water at the bottom of the ocean and ice caves in Greenland. That suggests that extraterrestrial life might also exist in places once thought uninhabitable.

This new identification of microbes in subglacial Lake Whillans, a 6-foot-deep, 20-square-mile (1.8 meters, 52 square kilometers) body of water kept liquid by heat from the bedrock below and friction from glaciers moving over that bedrock, just adds to the possibilities. The authors' findings, Tranter writes, "beg the question of whether microbes could eat rock beneath ice sheets on extraterrestrial bodies such as Mars."

Astrobiology sounds like a fascinating science.

Is the science of microbes its own thing too? Is that separate from or related to the microbiome?

So many little things to study and learn about!

i love the phrase "may hint at life in space."

psssst!  there may be life out here... find us if you can!  (i wrote that with a triumph the dog voice.)

I keed! I keed!

"You have your pick of the litter. You can choose from all kinds of guys who have no idea how to please you..."

I love that line.  :)

or when he's talking to darth vader and asks, "and which one of these buttons calls your parents to come pick you up?"

LOL it's funny because it's true!

hahaha!  totally.  poor darth got called out!

Haha!  Instead of hinting at life in space, why not just study it... it's already there.

Cool: "Experts claim that the plankton were not carried there at launch, because they are marine microorganisms not indigenous to the blast-off site in Kazakhstan – but are thought to have been blown there by air currents on Earth."

You May Also Like: