Learning About Life on Mars - the Chihuahuan Desert
Scientists turn to the Chihuahuan Desert of Mexico to study Mars due to its comparable inhospitable features. The Chihuahuan Desert shares similar characteristics with the surface of Mars, such as extreme temperatures, high ultraviolet light and dunes are very similar to the area of Mars’ Gale crater, where NASA’s Curiosity rover will land in August.
In order to examine what kind of species might possibly survive in an environment like Mars, scientists sought out any form of water in the area. Researchers found vestiges of the earliest Earth microbes in the Chihuahuan Desert. This Earthly evidence bolsters the possibility of life on early Mars when it was warmer and wetter.
Despite the scientists’ belief in the importance of research on Earth as a supplement to that on Mars in understanding space, water extraction from the area by locals has become dangerously high, threatening to damage the ecosystem of the Chihuahuan Desert.