Mars-Like Soils in the Atacama Desert, Chile, and the Dry Limit of Microbial Life

@article{NavarroGonzlez2003MarsLikeSI,
  title={Mars-Like Soils in the Atacama Desert, Chile, and the Dry Limit of Microbial Life},
  author={Rafael Navarro‐Gonz{\'a}lez and Fred A. Rainey and Paola Molina and Danielle R. Bagaley and Becky J. Hollen and José de la Rosa and Alanna M. Small and Richard C. Quinn and Frank J. Grunthaner and Luis C{\'a}ceres and Benito G{\'o}mez-Silva and Christopher P. McKay},
  journal={Science},
  year={2003},
  volume={302},
  pages={1018 - 1021}
}
The Viking missions showed the martian soil to be lifeless and depleted in organic material and indicated the presence of one or more reactive oxidants. Here we report the presence of Mars-like soils in the extreme arid region of the Atacama Desert. Samples from this region had organic species only at trace levels and extremely low levels of culturable bacteria. Two samples from the extreme arid region were tested for DNA and none was recovered. Incubation experiments, patterned after the… 
Mars-Like Soils in the Yungay Area, the Driest Core of the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile
The data obtained from the Viking lander’s analyses of soils on Mars were unexpected. First, was the finding that when soil samples were exposed to water vapor in the gas exchange experiment (GE)
The Hyperarid Core of the Atacama Desert, an Extremely Dry and Carbon Deprived Habitat of Potential Interest for the Field of Carbon Science
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It is proposed that due to the meager amounts of carbon and extremely dry conditions, the microbial communities of the hyperarid core of the Atacama Desert may be of interest for the field of carbon science.
The Atacama Desert in Northern Chile as an Analog Model of Mars
The Atacama Desert is by far the driest and oldest desert on Earth, showing a unique combination of environmental extremes (extreme dryness, the highest UV radiation levels on Earth, and highly
Microbial colonization of halite from the hyper-arid Atacama Desert studied by Raman spectroscopy
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Non-destructive Raman spectroscopical identification of endoevaporitic colonies in the Atacama Desert revealed the presence of UV-protective biomolecules as well as light-harvesting pigments pointing to photosynthetic activity, demonstrating the capability of Raman Spectroscopy to identify biomarkers within rocks that have a strong astrobiological potential.
The Enigma of the Martian Soil
  • A. Banin
  • Environmental Science, Medicine
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  • 2005
TLDR
In his Perspective, Banin discusses what has been learned about martian soil from past missions to the Red Planet and suggests soils in the Atacama Desert in Chile may offer valuable information on Mars-like soils.
The Atacama Desert: Technical Resources and the Growing Importance of Novel Microbial Diversity.
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This review traces the progress of microbiology research in the Atacama and dispels the popular view that this region is virtually devoid of life, demonstrating that microbial life is the latest recognized and least explored resource in this inspiring biome.
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The discovery of a diverse microbial community in smectite-rich subsurface layers in the hyperarid core of the Atacama, and the collection of biosignatures the authors have identified within the clays, suggest that similar shallow clay deposits on Mars may contain biosignature easily reachable by current rovers and landers.
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TLDR
A number of viable bacteria and fungi are in fact able to traverse the driest and most UV irradiated desert on Earth unscathed using wind-transported dust, particularly in the later afternoon hours, suggesting that microbial life on Mars, extant or past, may have similarly benefited from aeolian transport to move across the planet and find suitable habitats to thrive and evolve.
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