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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Cold-Loving Bacteria Offer Clues for Life on Mars


Researchers found the newly discovered bacterium, Planococcus halocryophilus OR1, in permafrost — permanently frozen ground — on Ellesmere Island. The organism thrives at 5 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 15 degrees Celsius), and holds clues to adaptations that might be necessary for life on Mars or Saturn's moon Enceladus, where temperatures are well below freezing.

The microbe lives inside veins of salty water, and can survive because the salt prevents the water in the veins from freezing, study leader Lyle Whyte of McGill University in Montreal said in a statement. The bacterium can remain active and breathing at temperatures down to at least minus 13 degrees F (minus 25 degrees C) in permafrost, Whyte said.

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