Water was found in caves in Atacama Desert, Chile
The Atacama Desert in Chile

Cave Exploration Yields Surprising Discovery

August 03, 2008 08:01 AM
by Lindsey Chapman
A research team practicing to search for caves on Mars has found an unexpected surprise on Earth: water.

30-Second Summary

While exploring a cave in the hot, extremely dry Atacama Desert in Chile, scientists made an intriguing discovery. They found water in a place that receives one millimeter of rain a year.

“So nobody was looking for water,” LiveScience explains.

In fact, the scientists were practicing finding caves on Earth in preparation for searching out caves on Mars. They believe Martian caves could contain signs of life.

One researcher says there are considerable similarities between the Atacama Desert and Mars. “The Atacama Desert and the dry valleys of Antarctica are where Earth meets Mars,” explained Ronald Amundson, a professor of ecosystem sciences with UC Berkeley. “I would argue that Mars has more in common geochemically with these climate extremes on Earth than these sites have in common with the rest of our planet.”

The search for life on Mars has sped up in recent months. The Phoenix Mars Lander recently collected ice from the Red Planet. “Water is considered a prerequisite for life as we know it,” stated LiveScience.

Scientists will continue their cave research through 2010, and conduct a similar program in California’s Mojave Desert.

Headline Link: ‘Incredible Discoveries Made in Remote Caves’

Background: NASA rover lands on Mars

Analysis: Will we ever discover life on Mars?

Related Topics: Water on Mars and the moon


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