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Of Microbes and Mars

Sampling the Atacama

The driest parts of Chile's Atacama desert get rain once every few decades, yet microbial life exists a mere 8 to 12 inches below the parched terrain. Researcher Jay Quade, shown here in a test pit, samples the Mars-like landscape for soil carbonates.

Credit: Julio L. Betancourt, U.S. Geological Survey.

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