September 28th, 2015

blackhat

(no subject)

In light of the -- SQUEEE -- surface water (brine) on Mars paper, i did some reading about the Atacama Desert (thanks ArsTechnica). An excellent overview paper is

Azua-Bustos, Armando, Catalina Urrejola, and Rafael Vicuña. “Life at the Dry Edge: Microorganisms of the Atacama Desert.” FEBS Letters 586, no. 18 (August 2012): 2939–45. doi:10.1016/j.febslet.2012.07.025.

Google maps supports visits, with some local photos and Wikipedia has many articles of varying brevity regarding features of the desert.

The most delightful thing i learned is how algae and other bacteria form colonies under quartz rock. (Domes!) The quartz transmits some light, cuts out the UV that zaps many bacteria with in days at the altitude, and provides a surface for fog condensation.

Oh, and the algae that live on spiderwebs in some of the caves in the "twilight zone."

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