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Extreme Life and Environments
Antartic Ozone Hole. Not only as one of the coldest and driest places on the planet, increasing radiation levels from ozone depletion make the South Pole even less hospitable to life. Coldest Life Known: 5 F (-15 C) Cryptoendoliths (Antarctica). Photo Credit: NASA
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Deep sea 'black smoker' vents give rise to exotic biochemistry. Often featuring great depths, boiling water temperatures and high methane concentration. Often looked to for alternatives to water-oxygen life.
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The highly alkaline Mono Lake, with a pH of 10 [most life is at least factor of 1000 less basic) pH 5-8]. The California Sierra lake is almost three times as salty as the ocean. Bacteria living here are near the world record (pH 11) for alkaline, bleaching survival. These unusual spires and knobs, called tufas, are formed when calcium-bearing freshwater springs well up through alkaline lake water, which is rich in carbonates. Photo Credit: Nancy Noever
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Antarctic changing landscape. Coldest surviving organisms: 5 F (-15 C) Cryptoendoliths (Antarctica)
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Space view of Italy (Sicily) Mt Etna. Hottest known life: 235 F (113 C) Pyrolobus fumarii (Volcano Island, Italy). Photo Credit: CNES
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Dry, cold conditions in Antartica make ice form very slowly in the air. The perfect hexagonal crystals refract like a prism against the long-summer daylight. Coldest surviving organisms: 5 F (-15 C) Cryptoendoliths (Antarctica)
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Exotic crystalline landforms from Antarctica arise from extreme cold and dryness. Coldest: 5 F (-15 C) Cryptoendoliths (Antarctica)
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Mono Lake has been called a "dead sea". Mono Lake in California is nearly 700,000 years old, making it one of the oldest and most saline lakes in North America. Throughout its long existence, salts and minerals have washed into the lake from Eastern Sierra streams, but there is no outlet. Fresh water evaporating leaves behind salts and minerals so that now Mono Lake is about 2 1/2 times as salty and 80 times as alkaline as the ocean. Photo Credit: Nancy Noever
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Protein model of functional subunit in salt-loving bacteria, or halophile, Haloarcula. Saltiest living organisms: 30% salt, or 9 times human blood saltiness.
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Haloferax, salt-loving bacteria, or halophiles. Record holders can survive 30% salt, or 9 times human blood saltiness. Photo Credit: UC Berkeley
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Life on the Edge. South Pole view from Space. Coldest living organisms: 5 F (-15 C) Cryptoendoliths (Antarctica)
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Highest Radiation Survivors: (5 MegaRad, or 5000x what kills humans) Deinococcus radiodurans. Culture dish shows colonies as yellow in petri dish.
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Hottest living organisms: 235 F (113 C) Pyrolobus fumarii (Volcano Island, Italy)
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Picoplankton. Scale bar at right is 2 microns, or 1/250th the width of a human hair. So small, these cells approach the limits of what functioning DNA can accomodate. Photo Credit: UC Berkeley
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Mono Lake, extreme biology in bleaching conditions (pH 10). The calcium and carbonate combine, precipitating out as limestone. Mono Basin is also filled with volcanoes. Black Point erupted under the Ice Age Mono Lake about 13,000 years ago, and is now totally exposed on the north shore. To the south lie the Mono Craters, the youngest mountain chain in North America. Mono's islands are also volcanic in nature. Photo Credit: Nancy Noever
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Permafrost life. Coldest living organisms: 5 F (-15 C) Cryptoendoliths (Antarctica)
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Longest survivors in unprotected vacuum and cold of space: 6 years Bacillus subtilis (NASA satellite)
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Big bacteria on a pinhead. Called Epulopiscium (ca. 600 microns long), one of the larger microbes known. Photo Credit: UC Berkeley
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Protein Model for high-radiation resistant organism, Deinococcus radiodurans. The eubacteria is the world record holder, surviving incredible radiation dosages(5 MRad, or 5000x what kills humans). High Resolution Structure of the Large Ribosomal Subunit (50S). Photo Credit: Genetik, Berlin
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Principal Investigator Sam Floyd holds the device that will be used this summer when he and his team test the NUGGET concept at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md. Click on image to enlarge. Credit: NASA
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This sealed tube contains a bacterial ecosystem which can form layered structures such as by the rock shown in the image below. Click on image to enlarge. Credit: NASA
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01/14/09
Jason Dworkin, an astrobiologist at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., holds a stromatolite, a layered sedimentary rock formed by bacteria eons ago. If such a rock were discovered on Mars, it could indicate that primitive life had once taken root on the red planet. Click on image to enlarge. Credit: NASA
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Stromatolite-banner
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CU-Boulder Professor Diane McKnight (blue jacket) and her research colleagues use sandbags to divert water into a streambed in Antarctica that had been dry for 20 years. Dormant bacterial mats popped up the next day. Photo courtesy CU-Boulder
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Former graduate student Ruth Ley of CU-Boulder's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (foreground) samples bacterial mats growing in the harsh, cold environment of Antarctica's Dry Valleys. Photo courtesy CU-Boulder
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The Sverrefjell volcano at 80° N on Svalbard (Norway) erupted through a thick ice sheet about 1 million years ago. Photo: Kjell Ove Storvik/AMASE
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L. Benning (Leeds) monitors sterile conditions in an ice coring tool. Photo: Kjell Ove Storvik/AMASE
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Trapped mineral fragments associated with microbial communities appear inside blue ice. Photo: Kjell Ove Storvik/AMASE
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01/14/09

Biopan before flight at ESTEC, with the hinged lid open. Experimenter-
provided packages are mounted on support plates in the bottom and the
lid. Credit: ESA
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Electron microscopic image of lichen following post-flight analysis. The cells are complete and not broken. Credit: ESA
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Rhizocarpon geographicum, species of lichen. Credit: ESA
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Members of The University of Texas at Austin team. Pictured here from left to right are Laura Lavery, senior in biochemistry; Jeff Tabor, doctoral student in molecular biology; Matt Levy, postdoctoral fellow in the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology (ICMB); Eric Davidson, graduate student in ICMB; and Aaron Chevalier, senior in physics. Credit: Marsha Miller/The University of Texas at Austin
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University of Texas at Austin molecular biology doctoral student Jeff Tabor holds a bacteria-produced photo of an enlarged E. coli bacterium–”a "self portrait." Credit: Marsha Miller/The University of Texas at Austin
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lichen on a rock
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Rosa de la Torre and Gerta Keller studying lichen
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Living C. elegans recovered from debris. a: Arrested dauer and L1 animals that had been grown on NGM. b: Reproductive animals that had been grown on CeMM. Note the damage to the agar in the upper left corner, presumably due to forces associated with impacting the Earth´ surface. Credit: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
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Flight hardware for STS-107. a: Diagram showing plates strapped together using Nomex/nylon Velcro and placed inside anodized aluminum canisters with Teflon bumpers filing the void between the sides of the canisters and the plates. The box-shaped device on top of the strapped plates is a temperature logger. b: Photograph showing a flight canister with the lid removed. Note the autonomous temperature logger is shown in the lower left of the panel, and the Velcro strap is visible inside the canister. This photograph was taken prior to loading the canister. c: Photograph showing the flown canisters assembled into a tray that was placed in half of a space shuttle mid-deck locker. Credit: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
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The near-boiling pools of Octopus Spring in Yellowstone National Park are ringed with microbial mats - highly organized communities where photosynthetic cyanobacteria serve as the main power plants. Researchers have found that the single-celled cyanobacterium Synechococcus drops its day job of photosynthesis, and surprisingly fixes nitrogen gas (N2) into biologically useful compounds at night. Credit: Carnegie Institution
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Captain Robert F. Scott's Hut with McMurdo Antarctic Station behind it.
Credit: Eric R. Christian/ Exploration of the Universe Division at NASA's GSFC
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Environmental Sample Processor (ESP), a set of diagnostic tools adapted from the biomedical industry, packed into a submersible cylinder about the size of an oil drum and operated by remote control. Credit: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
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The crawling robot, Lemur. Credit: NASA/JPL
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The crawling robot, Lemur, was built to help astronauts complete small jobs in space. "Lemur could be an astronauts pet monkey," says JPL engineer Brett Kennedy who designed the 6-limbed robot. Lemur performs a variety of functions with attachable tools.
Credit: NASA/JPL
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The crawling robot, Lemur, was built to help astronauts complete small jobs in space. "Lemur could be an astronauts pet monkey," says JPL engineer Brett Kennedy who designed the 6-limbed robot. Lemur performs a variety of functions with attachable tools. Credit: NASA/JPL
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The ALVIN submersible begins its descent to 1200m.
Image Credit: Gavin Eppard, WHOI
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