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Ancient microbes discovered in one of Earth's darkest habitats


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Scientists have discovered ancient microbes in one of the most remote lakes of Antarctica, nearly 65 feet beneath the icy surface. The findings help to increase knowledge of how life can sustain itself in extreme environments beyond our own planets.

"This system is probably the best analog we have for possible ecosystems in the subsurface waters of Saturn's moon Enceladus and Jupiter's moon Europa," said Chris McKay, a senior scientist and co-author of the paper at NASA's Ames Research Centre, Moffett Field.

McCay was part of the team of scientists from NASA, the Desert Research Institute (DRI), the University of Illinois and nine other institutes who uncovered the community of bacteria in Lake Vida. The lake is the largest of several found in the McMurdo Dry Valleys. It contains no oxygen, is mostly frozen and possesses the highest nitrous oxide levels of any natural water body. It is one of Earths darkest, saltiest and coldest habitats.

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