November 30, 2003
The high-altitude, volcanic, arid terrain at the border of Bolivia and Chile has been described as the best Earth-based analog for conditions on Mars billions of years ago —- a time when scientists think it's likely that the surface of Mars harbored icy lakes and rivers. A team of scientists led by Nathalie Cabrol of NASA Ames Research Center believes the similarities are so compelling that in late October 2003, they arrived at the Licancabur Volcano to explore what life is able to exist in such an extreme environment—as well as to test diving and other high-tech equipment like bodysuits that one day might be used to monitor the physiology (breathing rates, heartbeat, etc) of Mars explorers. Pictured here in this false-color image from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on the Terra satellite, the latter lake stands out in sapphire blue to the northeast of Licancabur (the solid charcoal peak).
Topics: Environment, Volcanology, Geology, Planetary science, Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer, Terra, Geographic information systems, Licancabur, Mars, Technology Internet