July 9, 2009

NASA scientists study carbonate rocks

NASA and the Canadian Space Agency are inviting the public to see an ongoing international research project investigating the origin of rare carbonate rocks.

The Tuesday event will take place at Pavilion Lake, located in British Columbia. Officials said such carbonate rock structures thrive in the lake's freshwater.

NASA underwater vehicles and scuba divers involved in the project, which started in 2004, are studying the underwater formations and conducting research about life in extreme environments with the goal of advancing astrobiology knowledge.

Scientists believe the carbonate rock structures, known as microbialites, first were formed by micro-organisms more than 2.5 billion years ago, NASA said in a statement. Today, environments rich in microbialites are seen as potential analogs for the biological, geological and chemical processes of early Earth. Similar processes possibly occurred on other planets, such as Mars.

More project information is available at http://www.pavilionlake.com.