article on CAVE with cluestolife on Mars

From: Barbara Weimann <72437.2024@CompuServe.COM>
Subject: article on CAVE with cluestolife on Mars
Date: 24 Aug 96 14:16:00 EDT

Hello all,
I just received my August National Wildlife Federation magazine.  In this issue
I was delighted to find the following article with lots of quotes from NASA's
Chris McKay:

      The CAVE That Holds Clues To Life On Mars

"Sound farfetched?  Then why is NASA so interested in the strange microbes
researchers are discovering under a New Mexico desert?"

Beginning on page 36-42, this article discusses how this cave, Lechuguilla
Cave, was carved out milions of years ago by dripping sulfuric acid. It states
that scientists think Mars may also hold caves carved by sulfuric acid.

The article states that much of the research is being funded by NASA as part of
a project devoted to examining the possibility of life on Mars.
One of the projects's principal investigators is CHRIS MCKAY and he is quoted
often in this article. As we know from our workshop, Chris goes to extreme
places on Earth to study the life-forms there, hopefully  to learn how they
survive and apply that knowledge to Mars.  This cave is such a place, seemingly
inhospitable to any life and nevertheless.........

Scientists have found cave bacteria which, in the absence of what we normally
consider necessary to support life , instead attack and may derive their energy
from manganese, iron, and possibly sulfur.  all these minerals also exist on
the planet Mars. The bacteria amazingly, oxidize mineral in a process called
chemolithotrophy (eating of rocks) and a similar phenonenon, would be the
organisms oxidizing sulfur in the water near the volcanic thermal vents on the
ocean floor, where sunlight also cannot reach.
Eight pages with lots of lovely color photos and very interesting info.
I recommend it.   Barb in NJ