Life in Antarctic Deserts and other Cold Dry Environments: Astrobiological Analogs

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Peter T. Doran, W. Berry Lyons, Diane M. McKnight
Cambridge University Press, Apr 29, 2010 - Science
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The McMurdo Dry Valleys form the largest relatively ice-free area on the Antarctic continent. The perennially ice-covered lakes, ephemeral streams and extensive areas of exposed soil are subject to low temperatures, limited precipitation and salt accumulation. The dry valleys thus represent a region where life approaches its environmental limits. This unique ecosystem has been studied for several decades as an analog to environments on other planets, particularly Mars. For the first time, the detailed terrestrial research of the dry valleys is brought together here, presented from an astrobiological perspective. Chapters include a discussion on the history of research in the valleys, a geological background of the valleys, setting them up as analogs for Mars, followed by chapters on the various sub-environments in the valleys such as lakes, glaciers and soils. Includes concluding chapters on biodiversity and other analog environments on Earth.

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Doran, Lyons and McKnight set forth important information on this remote region of the Earth. The volume is not only data rich, but is written in a style that is valuable for the well informed generalist as well as the serious scientist specialising in this region. C.Michael Hogan


1 Introduction
2 Geologic analogies between the surface of Mars and the McMurdo Dry Valleys microclimaterelated geomorphic features and evidence for climate ...
3 The legacy of aqueous environments on soils of the McMurdo Dry Valleys contexts for future exploration of martian soils
4 The antarctic cryptoendolithic microbial ecosystem
5 Antarctic McMurdo Dry Valley stream ecosystems as analog to fluvial systems on Mars
ecological analogs to martian paleolake environments
7 The biogeochemistry and hydrology of McMurdo Dry Valley glaciers is there life on martian ice now?
8 Factors promoting microbial diversity in the McMurdo Dry Valleys Antarctica
9 Other analogs to Mars highaltitude subsurface desert and polar environments

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