A place so barren that NASA uses it as a model for the Martian environment, Chiles Atacama desert gets rain maybe once a decade. In 2003, scientists reported that the driest Atacama soils were sterile.
Not so, reports a team of Arizona scientists. Bleak though it may be, microbial life lurks beneath the arid surface of the Atacamas absolute desert. "We found life, we can culture it, and we can extract and look at its DNA," said Raina Maier, a professor of soil, water and environmental science at the University of Arizona in Tucson. The work from her team contradicts last years widely reported study that asserted the "Mars-like soils" of the Atacamas core were the equivalent of the "dry limit of microbial life." Maier said, "We are saying, What is the dry limit of life? We havent reached it yet."
The Arizona researchers will publish their findings as a letter in the Nov. 19 issue of the journal Science. Maiers co-authors include UA researchers Kevin Drees, Julie Neilson, David Henderson and Jay Quade and U.S. Geological Survey paleoecologist Julio Betancourt. The project began not as a search for current life but rather as an attempt to peer into the past and reconstruct the history of the regions plant communities. Betancourt and Quade, a UA professor of geosciences, have been conducting research in the Atacama for the past seven years. Some parts of the Atacama have vegetation, but the absolute desert of the Atacamas core -- an area Betancourt describes as "just dirt and rocks" -- has none.
Mari N. Jensen | EurekAlert!
NASA examines Peru's deadly rainfall
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Steep rise of the Bernese Alps
24.03.2017 | Universität Bern
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy