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Science Post – October 16th

October 16, 2016

Life in Adversity: Hypolith Superhero!

By Anushree Srivastava and Dr Jonathan Clarke

Hypoliths are communities of photosynthetic organisms that survive and thrive underneath translucent surface rocks such as quartz. One of the objectives of the MARS 160 science mission is to explore hypoliths in the Utah Desert. Hypoliths may have significant relevance for astrobiology and have been explored in Earth’s deserts such as Atacama, Namib etc. Hypoliths may be able to survive aridity using vital moisture stored in the depressions beneath the rocks. Researchers have explored polar hypolith communities dominated by cyanobacteria and conclude that they find shelter from high fluxes of ultra-violet radiation and wind scouring in these high altitude cold deserts.  One of the objectives of yesterday’s EVA was to scout a small canyon between Tank Wash and the Junction of the 1572/1575. Alexander, Annalea and I had another amazing EVA on the All-Terrain Vehicle – I mean ATV 🙂


Figure: Hypoliths