Monday, July 17, 2006


Frozen microbes may hold key to life on Mars

Oslo, Norway - Living microbes found in what could be one-million-year-old ice on a remote Arctic island support the theory that the frozen planet Mars could also sustain life, researchers said on Tuesday.

An international team drilled ice core samples on the remote Svalbard islands at the extinct Sverrefjell volcano. They said that is the only place on Earth with the same minerals - called magnetite crystals - as those found on a meteorite from Mars that was discovered in the Antarctic in 1996.

'We have discovered a microbiological oasis in natural tubes of blue ice on Svalbard. This is an extremely tough environment in which we would not have expected to find life,' said team leader Hans EF Amundsen, of the University of Oslo.

Space probes sent to Mars by Nasa from the United States and by the European Space Administration (ESA) have showed evidence of water in the form of ice on the Red Planet.

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