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Astrobiology is the understanding how biologically relevant elements might be distributed in a landscape that had extinct or very cold adapted, slow-growing extant found on the surface of Mars.


Geophysical Laboratory scientists and collaborators have conducted a continental scale monitoring of the stable isotope ecology of plants adapted to fire and drought in Australia, focused on how important mangrove trees survive in high stress environments, and are conducting two major studies with scientists from the Smithsonian Institution and other univerisites to track the migration patterns of birds.

Current studies include the investigation of the role of viruses in the ecology of communities inhabiting rocks, or endolithic communities and halotolerant microbes living at high pressure, and continued inquiry into microbial viability at high pressures using diamond anvil cells. The challenge is how to interrogate quantitatively these volumetrically tiny worlds where microorganisms clearly exhibit evidence of viability with unknown biochemical modifications.