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Islands of Life, Part 1
The Atacama Desert in northern Chile, one of the driest places on Earth
The Atacama Desert in northern Chile, one of the driest places on Earth

The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is one of the driest places on our planet, and astrobiologists have long studied this unique location as an analog environment for ancient Mars. Astrobiology Magazine's field research editor, Henry Bortman, recently traveled to the Atacama desert with a group of scientists who are studying microorganisms living in stubby, knob-shaped rocks made of pure halite. In the first in a series of reports, the team takes a road trip to one of the Atacama's 'wettest' regions to collect samples and study how soil bacteria might act to colonize halite and other rocks.

Last Updated: 22 July 2011

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Last Updated: 22 Jul 2011