Measuring hydrothermal fluid temperature among acid gases in active chimneys. / Puri López-García
Microbial cells (on the left) can be easily confounded with silica-rich mineral precipitates (on the right). / Puri López-García
Colourful hyperacid and hypersline hydrothermal ponds at the geothermal field of Dallol. / Puri López-García
Living beings, especially microorganisms, have a surprising ability to adapt to the most extreme environments on our planet, but there are still places where they cannot live. European researchers have confirmed the absence of microbial life in hot, saline, hyperacid ponds in the Dallol geothermal field in Ethiopia.
One of the great attractions of the island of Santorini, in Greece, lies in its spectacular volcanic landscape, which also contains places similar to those of Mars. A team of European and U.S. scientists has discovered it after analysing basaltic rocks collected in one of its coves.
3,500 million years ago the Martian crater Gale, through which the NASA rover Curiosity is currently traversing, was covered with glaciers, mainly over its central mound. Very cold liquid water also flowed through its rivers and lakes on the lower-lying areas, forming landscapes similar to those which can be found in Iceland or Alaska. This is reflected in an analysis of the images taken by the spacecraft orbiting the red planet.
Communication with the spacecraft was lost on August 21, 1993. / Wearbeard