Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Billion Year Old Water May Contain Life


The world's oldest water has the properties necessary to support life, a development that scientists think bodes well for the possibility of life on Mars and in other extreme environments.

Found seeping out of a borehole from an Ontario mine about a mile and a half below ground, the water is believed to have been isolated for at least 1.5 billion years, according to a study published Wednesday in Nature

Researchers found "abundant chemicals known to support life," such as hydrogen, methane, and isotopes of helium, neon, and argon in the water. The water is still being studied by researchers at Toronto University to see if there is any evidence of life or remnants of life.

The study is the latest to look for life in the unlikeliest of places--and more often than not, microbes seem to find a way to get their, umm, living on. 

Last year, an American team found all sorts of bacteria in Antarctica's Lake Vida, which is covered in more than 30 feet of ice, reaches temperatures of just 8.6 degrees Fahrenheit and is six times saltier than sea water. Life has also been found in deep sea hydrothermal vents, in storm clouds and in the Trinidad and Tobago's hydrocarbon Pitch Lake (which mimics conditions seen on Saturn's moon Titan). Meanwhile, Russian scientists studying samples from Antarctica's Lake Vostok--which remained untouched for 15 million years beneath 2.5 miles of ice--are still trying to get their shit together as they decide whether their samples are contaminated or not. 

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