These Color Swatches Could Help Us Find Alien Life

For the first time ever, scientists have created a detailed catalogue of color swatches that correspond to nearly 140 known microorganisms, including those that can live in the most extreme environments. Armed with this knowledge, astrobiologists can now scan the atmospheres of distant exoplanets in hopes of finding a… » 3/17/15 9:25am 3/17/15 9:25am

The Ancient Secrets of a "Bleeding" Glacier Are Finally Being Revealed

Against vast whiteness of Antarctica, Blood Falls bleeds a deep dramatic red. The color comes from iron-rich ancient seawater trapped under the ice for 2 million years. For the first time, scientists have been able to take a sample from deep under the ice. » 3/12/15 6:14pm 3/12/15 6:14pm

Microbes Have Been Discovered 1.5 Miles Beneath The Seabed Off Japan

The floor itself is more than 3,000 feet (1,000 meters) beneath the waves. The extremophiles, the deepest ever discovered by a drilling expedition, likely subsist on a low-calorie diet of hydrocarbons and have a low metabolism. The discovery has implications in the search for alien life. » 12/16/14 6:00pm 12/16/14 6:00pm

New Theory Suggests Life Can Emerge On Planets Without Water

Astrobiologists like to argue about the various parameters required for planetary habitability, but one thing they tend to agree on is that water must be present. A new theory upends this assumption by suggesting that alien life could thrive on "supercritical carbon dioxide" instead. » 11/19/14 7:00pm 11/19/14 7:00pm

What Creates These Bright Pink Streaks in the Snow?

All around the world, in the cold, people walking near high-altitude rivers and lakes see streaks of vibrant "watermelon snow." This bright pink snow can color deep snow wells, or make cliffs look like they are streaked with blood. Find out what makes snow pink. » 11/11/14 12:40pm 11/11/14 12:40pm

What Do Extreme Ecosystems Tell Us About The Nature Of Life?

Our planet has some pretty intense environments, ranging from dense ice to molten rock — and they all play host to some form of life. What do extremophiles — creatures that live in unimaginable conditions — tell us about the very nature, and limits, of life? » 8/06/14 1:02pm 8/06/14 1:02pm

Discovery Of 'Electric Bacteria' Hints At The Potential For Alien Life

Microbiologists have learned that certain strains of bacteria are capable of using energy in its purest form by eating and breathing electrons. It's a discovery that demonstrates an entirely new mode of life on Earth — and possibly beyond. » 7/17/14 8:40am 7/17/14 8:40am

The Most Extreme Environments Where Alien Life Could Be Found

There may be as many as 100 million habitable worlds in the Milky Way. But just what, exactly, are the requirements for life? And what are the environmental extremes that life can handle? A new checklist for the habitability of exoplanets attempts to answer these questions. » 6/10/14 8:10am 6/10/14 8:10am

Did This Martian Volcano Once Host Life?

Extremophiles teach us that life is found in unlikely places, which is why scientists are trying to expand our definition of what a habitable environment is. This ancient Martian volcano could be a prime example. » 5/28/14 6:00pm 5/28/14 6:00pm

Whoa, this leech survived after being in liquid nitrogen for 24 hours

Scientists have learned that a common parasite of sea turtles is capable of surviving ridiculously cold temperatures — a finding that could lead to the development of advanced cryopreservation techniques. » 1/23/14 3:30pm 1/23/14 3:30pm

Unknown Bacteria Discovered in Two Spacecraft Clean Rooms

Scientists have discovered a microbe that – to their knowledge – can be found just two places on Earth. The first: a spacecraft clean room in Guiana. The second: a spacecraft clean room in Florida, some 2,500 miles away. » 11/20/13 11:38am 11/20/13 11:38am

New Evidence: Antarctica’s Ancient, Ice-Covered Lake is Full of Life

A new study offers evidence that Antartica's Lake Vostok harbors its own unique ecosystem of life forms, despite being buried under two miles of ice for the past 15 million years. This is good news for scientists who are looking for life on other worlds. » 7/08/13 11:11am 7/08/13 11:11am

Listen to Neil deGrasse Tyson Funk the Universe

Earlier this year, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson made an appearance on Joe Rogan's podcast to talk black holes, multiverses, and extremophiles. So, naturally, someone mixed the interview audio into a funky rap about the Universe. » 6/14/13 6:40am 6/14/13 6:40am

The deepest part of the ocean is "teeming" with microbes

Marine biologists have discovered a vibrant community of ecologically important microbes living at the bottom of the 7 mile (11 km) Mariana Trench — the deepest part of the Earth's surface. » 3/18/13 2:20pm 3/18/13 2:20pm

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

These creatures live in a lake that's been sealed beneath ice for 2,800…

Antarctica's Lake Vida has been sealed beneath the ice for 2,800 years. Its depths have become a concentrated briny brew, freezing cold, and shrouded completely in darkness. And now, researchers have just shown that it has a thriving bacterial ecosystem. » 11/30/12 10:06am 11/30/12 10:06am

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

Single-celled extremophiles can deal with toxic uranium in very…

At io9, we love extremophiles, the litte creatures which can survive and thrive in the most insane conditions our planet has to offer. A new study has shown that even when two extremophiles are very closely related, they can handle toxic conditions in very different ways. » 9/29/12 1:00pm 9/29/12 1:00pm

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