Life has been discovered beneath the Antarctic ice

There is life in Lake Whillans. For millions of years, this small body of liquid water has lurked hundreds of meters below Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf, sealed off from the outside world and the scientists who would explore its subglacial depths. Now, in a monumental first, a team of researchers led by Montana State… » 2/12/13 2:00pm 2/12/13 2:00pm

Bacteria and fungi living 30,000 feet above the Earth could be…

Microorganisms have been found in virtually every corner of the Earth, from deep sea volcanoes to the tops of frozen mountains. They've also been discovered high up in the atmosphere — but scientists haven't been entirely sure as to nature and extent of these elusive high-altitude organisms. Now, new research suggests… » 1/29/13 8:31am 1/29/13 8:31am

Mars once had water warm enough to sustain life

We know that Mars once had lots of water, considered a prerequisite for habitability. What hasn't been known, however, is just how friendly — or unfriendly — this water might have been to life, as the temperature and chemical conditions of ancient Martian water has remained a complete mystery. But as a new analysis… » 11/19/12 8:00am 11/19/12 8:00am

NASA: Extreme forms of life can survive on planets with weird orbits

Biologists who study extremophiles know just how tough and resilient life can be. Microbes have been discovered in virtually all four corners of the Earth, including deserts, extreme altitudes, and undersea volcanoes. Insights like these have forced astrobiologists to reconsider the types of environments where life… » 9/12/12 8:55am 9/12/12 8:55am

Why look for life on Mars when you can make life on Mars?

Biologists who study extremophiles are dramatically expanding our sense of just how amazingly resilient microorganisms can be — insights that have serious implications in our search for extraterrestrial life. At the same time, these hardy microbes are also inspiring synthetic biologists to create their own strains of… » 8/09/12 12:00pm 8/09/12 12:00pm

Methane-exhaling microbes found in undersea volcanoes reset the limits…

As unbelievable as it sounds, it's thought that up to a third of all the Earth's organisms by mass live in rocks and sediments. Suffice to say, we know excruciatingly little about the lives and ecology of these highly inaccessible creatures. But a new study from the University of Massachusetts Amherst is offering an… » 8/07/12 9:45am 8/07/12 9:45am

Russian scientists prepare to explore the most alien lake on Earth

Buried over two miles beneath the East Antarctic Ice sheet lurks Lake Vostok — an isolated body of subglacial water, removed from the rest of the world for more than twenty million years. Now, Russian researchers are just a few meters of ice away from entering an environment unlike any we've ever seen... at least, not… » 2/02/12 2:38pm 2/02/12 2:38pm

These bacteria are controlled by magnetic fields

Magnetotactic bacteria were first discovered back in 1975. They're microbes that orient themselves along magnetic fields, thanks to their compartments of tiny magnetic nanocrystals called magnetesomes (the orange circles in the picture above), which force the bacteria into magnetic alignment. Unlike larger animals… » 12/23/11 11:22am 12/23/11 11:22am