To determine how life might persist on Mars, Nathalie Cabrol explores one of Earth’s most extreme environments: high-elevation Andean lakes and deserts.
While we like to imagine little green men, it’s far more likely that life on other planets will be microbial. Planetary scientist Nathalie Cabrol takes us inside the search for microbes on Mars, a hunt which counterintuitively leads us to the remote lakes of the Andes mountains. This extreme environment – with its thin atmosphere and scorched land – approximates the surface of Mars about 3.5 billion years ago. How microbes adapt to survive here may just show us where to look on Mars – and could help us understand why some microbial pathways lead to civilization while others are a dead end.