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Life, Unbounded

Signs Of Life From Lake Vostok

The bottom of the world (Reuters)

Recent efforts to extract a water sample from the ancient sub-surface Antarctic Lake Vostok seem to be yielding some promising results. Russian scientists now claim detection of previously ‘unclassified’ microbial organisms. On January 10th this year Russian scientists reported that they had extracted an ice core from over 3,600 meters depth – containing what was [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Lake Vostok Water Ice Has Been Obtained

Vostok (Reuters)

Break out the vodka. The first confirmed sample of water from the subsurface Lake Vostok in Antarctica has been retrieved. Almost a year ago, in February 2012 Russian scientists and engineers drilled to a depth of nearly 4,000 meters in the ice above Lake Vostok – a 1,300 cubic mile volume of liquid water thought [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Lake Vostok is (Almost) Breached After 20 Million Years

Satellite composite showing location of Vostok within the Antarctic continent (NASA)

Two and a half miles beneath the surface of Antarctica’s central Eastern ice sheet is a body of water 160 miles by 30 miles across known as Lake Vostok, after the Vostok research station above it, built by the former Soviet Union in 1957 and now operated by Russia. Even by Antarctic standards it’s a [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Astrobiology: We are the Aliens

Bacterial aliens (NASA)

A funny thing happened recently on the way to Mars. A few days after the successful launch of NASA’s behemoth Curiosity rover with its Mars Science Laboratory instruments on November 26th 2011, a somewhat muted piece of news came out admitting that the strict biological planetary protection rules had not been adhered to quite as [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Life in liquid carbon dioxide

Liquid CO2 bubbles at Champagne vent

Well, ok, perhaps it’s not life really in liquid carbon dioxide, but as you’ll see it’s pretty close. The study of extreme environments on Earth plays a big role in our expanding knowledge about places that support life but are radically different from the sunny, temperate, beer swilling, tea drinking surroundings we find ourselves in. [...]

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Observations

Can Hitchhiking Earth Microbes Thrive on Mars?

Curiosity rover cleanroom

LOS ANGELES—When the Curiosity rover lifted off toward Mars, the spacecraft carried a few stowaways—278,000 bacterial spores, by NASA’s best estimate. That is sparkling clean, by spacecraft standards—the mission’s components had been sterilized, wiped, baked and coddled in clean rooms to drastically reduce the bacterial burden. Mars missions such as Curiosity are subject to strict [...]

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Observations

Animal Tracks: Music about Unusual Creatures Features Some Unusual Instruments [Video]

dugong, underwater photo

Michael Hearst seems to enjoy making music with a purpose. About five years ago the Brooklyn, N.Y., musician made headlines with a pretty self-explanatory record called Songs for Ice Cream Trucks. Since then, he and his band One Ring Zero have released an album-long ode to the planets (including Pluto), as well as a record [...]

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Observations

Unwanted Housemates: Dishwashers Provide Habitat for “Extremotolerant” Fungi

Dishwasher in a kitchen

A dishwasher makes a nice addition to any home. But the appliances also make a nice home for a number of fungi, some of which are pathogenic, according to a new study. A group of researchers from institutions in Slovenia, the Netherlands and China took samples from the rubber seals inside 189 dishwashers from 18 [...]

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