Extreme microbes in salty Arctic water could aid search for life on Mars

Never-before-seen microbes living deep beneath the permafrost at one of the coldest and saltiest water springs on Earth could provide a blueprint for life on Mars.

At Lost Hammer Spring, which lies above the Arctic Circle in Nunavut, Canada, briny water bubbles up through 2,000 feet (600 meters) of permafrost. The water has a salinity of about 24%, and the salt acts as an antifreeze to allow the water to remain liquid even at subzero temperatures. But it’s the lack of free oxygen — less than 1 part per million — that makes the conditions there truly alien.



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