Scientists have found life in the hottest place that exists on Earth: a volcano in Ethiopia. The discovery of tiny microbes gives us an understanding of how life could’ve thrived on Mars, despite high temperatures.
NANOBACTERIAS: LIVE AT HIGH TEMPERATURES
Study collected samples from the area around Dallol volcano and the Danakil depression in Northern Ethiopia, one of the hottest and most inhospitable places on Earth.
The researchers found a strain of bacteria that lives in extreme acidity and 89 degrees Celsius temperatures, conditions similar to those found on the red planet, when it was in formation stage.
“THIS IS AN EXOTIC ENVIRONMENT, MULTIPLE EXTREMES, WITH ORGANISMS WHO NEED HIGH TEMPERATURE, HIGH SALT CONTENT AND LOW PH IN ORDER TO SURVIVE,” SAID DR. FELIPE GÓMEZ, RESEARCHER AT ASTROBIOLOGY CENTER IN SPAIN.
The studied area is saturated with several salts, such as silver chloride, iron sulfide and rock salt, which produced a landscape of yellows, red, green and blues.
Salt samples analyzed showed small spherical structures which were tiny microbes (Nanohaloarchaeles), which lived in compact colonies.
EACH MICROBE WAS 20 TIMES SMALLER THAN THE AVERAGE BACTERIA.
A MARTIAN PLACE ON EARTH
The Dallol volcano is 125 meters below the sea level. Its Hydrothermal activity is fueled by water that has been heated by the shallow magma reserve (lava) little deep beneath the volcano.
The unusual composition of the area makes it very similar to hydrothermal environments that would’ve been found on Mars, including Gusev Crater, where the NASA’s Rover Spirit landed.
While Mars is mostly dry and desolate today, recent research shows that the planet was probably covered by large bodies of water between three and four billion years ago.
The presence of life in Dallol hot springs extends human understanding of the limits of habitability on Earth.
However, you still need to investigate how these nanobacterias survive in such an extreme environment.