Lake Vida – Could Life Be Anywhere?


Source: national geographic 2003

I’ve always thought brining was to preserve food. Turns out that it can also be used to preserve (some, not all, but alive and kicking) bacteria. Microbial life has been discovered in a brine lake beneath the Antarctic ice after spending almost 3,000 years isolated from external energy sources.

Previous studies of the brine in Lake Vida from 2002 had discovered the presence of ancient microbes, however these needed to be thawed before life signs were observed. The most recent result showed Vida to contain a diverse and metabolically active bacteria-dominated ecosystem.

In Lake Vida, the microbe’s  habitat is isolated. It is a dark (with little or no light), anoxic (without oxygen), slightly acidic and saline world where temperatures stay around -13C.

Peter T Doran, a professor at the University of Illinois’ claims “This provides us with new boundary conditions on the limits for life”

But maybe this research is not aimed to provide us with new boundary conditions of life. Quite the contrary, almost like sending out our explorers to find live on places like Mars.  This research is providing us with valuable information about terrestrial cryohabitats (like atmospheres beyond Earths).

But is the pure definition of life not something that would, with a little imagination, could be true for many phenomena yet unseen. Do we really need to set boundary conditions? Or can we expect to find life, in other forms then looked for, closer to home?