A class of especially hardy microbes that live in some of the
harshest Earthly environments could flourish on cold Mars and other chilly
planets, according to a research team of astronomers and microbiologists. In a
two-year laboratory study, the researchers discovered that some cold-adapted
microorganisms not only survived but reproduced at 30 degrees Fahrenheit, just
below the freezing point of water. The microbes also developed a defense
mechanism that protected them from cold temperatures. These close-up images,
taken by an electron microscope, reveal the tiny one-cell organisms, called
halophiles and methanogens, that were used in the study.
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