Can these caves help scientists find life on other planets?

The SLIME team scientists study which microbes lived in these extreme cave environments. Penny works with scientists from NASA to help answer the question "What will life be like if we find it on Mars?" Here on Earth, they look for possible energy sources like hydrogen sulfide, manganese, and iron that microbes can use for food. Finding microbes that survive only on chemical energy can help scientists know what to look for when searching for subsurface life on other planets or moons.

Leslie asks "If we go to Mars, how do we recognize if a rock was formed by a microbe?" To do this, the SLIME team scientists see how microbes change rocks. They can then look for the same changes in rocks on Mars and other planets too.

After studying the different caves like and the tiny creatures that lived or live inside them, scientists can then look for similar conditions on other planets that support life. If living creatures can survive in such unworldy cave environments, maybe there is life beyond the reaches of our own planet too!

Let's look at more life in caves! The next cave is Cueva de Villa Luz.

This web site Copyright 2007, 2011, Kenneth Ingham