Argentina Lake May Hold Secret to Life in Outer Space

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Microbiologist Maria Eugenia Farias (R) from the National Scientific and Technical Research Council and an aide look for rock samples containing bacteria in the crater of the Galan Volcano, at over 4,700m (15,400 feet) above sea level in Catamarca August 4, 2010. A lake in Argentina's remote, inhospitable northwest may offer clues on how life got started on Earth and how it could survive on other planets, scientists say. Researchers have found millions of "super" bacteria thriving inside the oxygen-starved Lake Diamante, in the center of the giant volcanic crater.

REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian

Bacteria growth amid the extreme conditions in northern Argentina’s Lake Diamante bodes well for the possibility of life on Mars, according to a new report.

In spite of a lack of oxygen, an altitude of 15,400 feet above sea level, a high atmospheric level of alkaline, arsenic and salt, so-called “super bacteria” are alive and kicking in the Laguna del Diamante, or Lake Diamante, in Argentina’s Mendoza province.

If those conditions sound familiar, dear NewsFeed reader, then you are well-traveled. And we aren’t talking Internet traffic here, for such an environment resembles the planet Mars, among other outer space locales.

“What we have here is a series of extreme conditions all in one place. And this is what makes this place unique in the world,” said Maroa Eugenia Farias, a microbiologist at the National Scientific and Technical Research Council, in an interview with the Reuters News Agency.

With little oxygen, the bacteria also must mutate on a regular basis to endure the harsh ultra-violet radiation at that altitude, which could make the life forms valuable case studies for pharmaceutical products, including sunscreens. (Via Reuters)