Extreme microbes in salty Arctic water could help search for life on Mars

Never-before-seen microbes living deep under the permafrost at one of the coldest and saltiest water sources on Earth could provide a blueprint for life on Mars.

At Lost Hammer Spring, which sits above the Arctic Circle in Nunavut, Canada, saltwater bubbles up through 600 meters of permafrost. The water has a salinity of about 24% and the salt acts as an antifreeze, so the water remains liquid even at temperatures below freezing. But it’s the lack of free oxygen — less than 1 part per million — that makes the conditions there truly alien.

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