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NASA revealed in January that plumes of methane on Mars could be from living organisms. Some scientists believe that any microbes are lying dormant beneath thick underground ice on the Red Planet. A future space mission could dig them up and bring them back to life.
Dr Loveland-Curtze says that similar microorganisms could exist on other worlds and studying them in extreme conditions on Earth may provide insight into what sorts of life forms could survive elsewhere in the solar system. She told Skymania News: "Many scientists consider polar ice on Earth as the best analogue of any extraterrestrial life on other planets, especially where ice has been detected. Polar ice on Earth can preserve microbial cells and nucleic acids for hundreds of thousands of years. Microbial cells have been cultivated from 750,000 years old earth ice and several million years old permafrost." But she added: " At this moment we can not say whether any cells, if they exist, can be revived from Mars."