Ancient Microbial Life Found Thriving in Permanent Darkness 60 Feet Beneath Antarctica Ice
Follow the Daily Galaxy
Add Daily Galaxy to igoogle page AddThis Feed Button Join The Daily Galaxy Group on Facebook Follow The Daily Galaxy Group on twitter
 

« Horsehead Nebula Found to Cloak a Vast Interstellar Chemistry Lab | Main | CERN's Large Hadron Collider Reveals New Type of Matter »

November 26, 2012

Ancient Microbial Life Found Thriving in Permanent Darkness 60 Feet Beneath Antarctica Ice

 

           Heartyorgani

 

A harbinger of life on Jupiter's Europa? Ancient microbes have been discovered in bitter-cold brine beneath 60 feet of Antarctic ice, in permanent darkness and subzero temperatures of Antarctica's Lake Vida, located in the northernmost of the McMurdo Dry Valleys of East Antarctica.

In the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nathaniel Ostrom, Michigan State University zoologist, has co-authored "Microbial Life at -13ºC in the Brine of an Ice-Sealed Antarctic Lake." Ostrom was part of a team that discovered an ancient thriving colony, which is estimated to have been isolated for more than 2,800 years living in a brine of more than 20 percent salinity that has high concentrations of ammonia, nitrogen, sulfur and supersaturated nitrous oxide—the highest ever measured in a natural aquatic environment.

"It's an extreme environment – the thickest lake ice on the planet, and the coldest, most stable cryo-environment on Earth," Ostrom said. "The discovery of this ecosystem gives us insight into other isolated, frozen environments on Earth, but it also gives us a potential model for life on other icy planets that harbor saline deposits and subsurface oceans, such as Jupiter's moon Europa."

Members of the 2010 Lake Vida expedition team, Dr. Peter Doran (professor, University of Illinois, Chicago), Dr. Chris Fritsen (research professor, Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nev.) and Jay Kyne (an ice driller) use a sidewinder drill inside a secure, sterile tent on the lake’s surface to collect an ice core and brine existing in a voluminous network of channels 16 meters and more below the lake surface. 

 

            Ancientmicro

 

On the Earth's surface, water fuels life. Plants use photosynthesis to derive energy. In contrast, at thermal vents at the ocean bottom, out of reach of the sun's rays, chemical energy released by hydrothermal processes supports life. Life in Lake Vida lacks sunlight and oxygen. Its high concentrations of hydrogen gas, nitrate, nitrite and nitrous oxide likely provide the chemical energy used to support this novel and isolated microbial ecosystem. The high concentrations of hydrogen and nitrous oxide gases are likely derived from chemical reactions with the surrounding iron-rich rocks.

Consequently, it is likely that the chemical reactions between the anoxic brine and rock provide a source of energy to fuel microbial metabolism. These processes provide new insights into how life may have developed on Earth and function on other planetary bodies, Ostrom said. The research team comprised scientists from the Desert Research Institute (Reno, Nev.), the University of Illinois-Chicago, NASA, the University of Colorado, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Montana State University, the University of Georgia, the University of Tasmania and Indiana University.

For more information: "Microbial life at −13 °C in the brine of an ice-sealed Antarctic lake," by Alison E. Murray et al. PNAS, 2012. www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/11/21/1208607109.abstract Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

The Daily Galaxy via Michigan State University

Image credit: Desert Research Institute.

Comments

Here is the difference. That area in Antarctica may have once been a more friendly/warmer environment millions of years ago. There could have been microbial life at that time and it just adapted to the extreme cold over time. these planets we are comparing have most likely NEVER had weather friendly to life EVER and have always been balls of freezing ice. BIG DIFFERENCE.

You forget that Uropa has volcanic activity. Life on earth may have started in or around a thermal vent at the bottom of the ocean, exactly like the ones we should find on these ocean worlds. And don't forget about the possibility of panspermia.

doesntmatter is correct,the bacteria under antarctica came into existance in a warm climate and adapted over time to the frozen environment. Unless there is definate proof that life can pop into existance near a thermal vent you can't really say life started on Europa or any other subsurface ocean on any moon.


Post a comment

« Horsehead Nebula Found to Cloak a Vast Interstellar Chemistry Lab | Main | CERN's Large Hadron Collider Reveals New Type of Matter »




1


2


3


4


5


6


7


8





9


11


12


13


14


15

Our Partners

technology partners

A


19


B

About Us/Privacy Policy

For more information on The Daily Galaxy and to contact us please visit this page.



E