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Advances in Astronomy
Volume 2011, Article ID 953936, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2011/953936
Research Article

Astrobiological Field Campaign to a Volcanosedimentary Mars Analogue Methane Producing Subsurface Protected Ecosystem: Imuruk Lake (Alaska)

1Centro de Astrobiologia (CAB), INTA-CSIC, Carretera de Ajalvir Km 4, Torrejón de Ardoz, 28850 Madrid, Spain
2Centro de Biología Molecular, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid/CSIC (UAM/CSIC), Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain

Received 29 September 2011; Revised 10 December 2011; Accepted 23 December 2011

Academic Editor: Wing Huen Ip

Copyright © 2011 F. Gómez et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Viking missions reported adverse conditions for life in Mars surface. High hydrogen signal obtained by Mars orbiters has increased the interest in subsurface prospection as putative protected Mars environment with life potential. Permafrost has attracted considerable interest from an astrobiological point of view due to the recently reported results from the Mars exploration rovers. Considerable studies have been developed on extreme ecosystems and permafrost in particular, to evaluate the possibility of life on Mars and to test specific automated life detection instruments for space missions. The biodiversity of permafrost located on the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve has been studied as an example of subsurface protected niche of astrobiological interest. Different conventional (enrichment and isolation) and molecular ecology techniques (cloning, fluorescence “in situ” probe hybridization, FISH) have been used for isolation and bacterial identification.