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 Nordic Special

Swashbuckling Scientists Discover Northern Vents
By Lee Pullen
Researchers exploring the ocean floor along the northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge between Greenland and Norway have discovered hydrothermal vents that support an extremophile ecosystem. The finds support the idea that biological communities could exist around vents on other worlds.

Cliffbot Goes Climbing
By Henry Bortman
Many scientifically interesting sites on Mars lie on the steep faces of cliffs and craters, out of reach of present-day technology. A group of NASA engineers has developed a three-rover system, modeled on tether-aided human climbing, that may make these locations accessible.

The Iceland Diaries Part 1

(Feb 11, 2008): Iceland, one of the most active volcanic places in the world. In some ways, Iceland resembles what the young Earth was like, so studying modern bacteria that colonize Icelandís rocks may provide clues about early life.

The Iceland Diaries Part 2

(Feb 14, 2008): Iceland, one of the most active volcanic places in the world. In some ways, Iceland resembles what the young Earth was like, so studying modern bacteria that colonize Icelandís rocks may provide clues about early life.

AMASE 2008 Blog

With a unique combination of volcanoes, hot springs and permafrost, the Bockfjord Volcanic Complex on the Arctic islands of Svalbard is the only place on Earth with carbonate deposits identical to carbonates in the Martian meteorite ALH84001.

Related links

Cliff Hangers: The All-terrain Mars Rover

Mars Science Laboratory Shakedown in the High Arctic

Arctic, Antarctic, Mars

Life in Ice

Mars Research in Polar Bear Country
Interview with Hans Amundsen

Astrobiology Roadmap Goal 2

The Iceland Diaries Part 1

The Iceland Diaries Part 2

Svalbard Credit:Andrew Steele

AMASE 2008 Blog

With a unique combination of volcanoes, hot springs and permafrost, the Bockfjord Volcanic Complex on the Arctic islands of Svalbard is the only place on Earth with carbonate deposits identical to carbonates in the Martian meteorite ALH84001. The interaction between water, rocks and primitive life forms in this Mars-like environment provides an ideal testing ground for instruments under development for future "Search for Life" missions to Mars.

Satellite Image of Svalbard

Satellite Image of Svalbard This image from space shows many of the sites of the Arctic Mars Analogue Svalbard Expedition. Credit: NASA

Since 2003, the Arctic Mars Analogue Svalbard Expedition (AMASE) has been traveling to field sites on Svalbard to test procedures and equipment needed to detect traces of organic chemistry and perhaps life on Mars. The AMASE crew over the years has consisted of over a hundred scientists and engineers from institutions around the world.


Currently instruments for the 2009 NASA Mars Science Laboratory mission and the 2013 ESA ExoMars mission are being tested. AMASE scientists also are testing a "cliffbot" rover system from NASA JPL. This rover concept may be used for a future Mars sample return mission. Follow along on this year's mission through this online journal written by AMASE-ing scientists in the field at: amase2008.arc.nasa.gov

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