Home Uncategorized NASA Revives First-Seen Life Forms Trapped In Crystals For 60,000 Years

NASA Revives First-Seen Life Forms Trapped In Crystals For 60,000 Years



Director of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute Penelope Boston is one of the scientists in the search for extraordinary life on Earth. She has spent years exploring the caves in Mexico’s Naica Mine in Chihuahua in search of extremophiles – organisms that have adapted to life under extreme conditions.

Naica Mine’s caves are filled with fascinating crystal formations that can reach lengths of up to five meters. Situated over a large pocket of volcanic magma, the cave system can reach temperatures of up to 60 C (140F), which is why astrobiologists have dubbed it “hell.”

However, this ‘hell’ is the home to some of the largest gypsum crystals in the world, which makes it a spectacle to see. And what is even more fascinating is the fact that these crystals were found to contain life forms.

Boston’s research team have found around 100 different life forms (mostly bacteria) living in these crystals, 90% of which have never been seen before. These organisms had been trapped in the crystals for a period of 10,000 to 60,000 years and have adapted to feed on iron, copper oxide, manganese, or sulfides.


“These guys are living in an environment where there’s not organic food as we understand it. They’re an example at very high temperatures of organisms making their living essentially by munching down inorganic minerals and compounds. This is maybe the deep history of our life here,” explains Boston for The Telegraph.

After succeeding in reviving these life forms, the NASA team is now trying to keep them alive and analyze them more thoroughly.

The team explains that other caves are also thought to contain “weird life forms,” but that exploring them is not possible yet due to the harsh environment.

This discovery raises further hopes of finding extra-terrestrial life forms, the most likely target being Europa – Jupiter’s moon which has an ocean of salt water beneath its icy crust. Since these life forms would be very resilient, if not exposed to the sun’s UV radiation, they could survive the trip to Earth.

Dr. John Rummel, from the Seti Institute in Mountain View, California, explains that if such life forms were found, they would be contained “until hazard testing demonstrates that there is no danger and no life,” or they would “continue the containment indefinitely” while they study the material.

Theis may not seem like a significant step toward finding intelligent life in our solar system. However, finding any life forms outside Earth would be a tremendous discovery in understanding how life in the universe functions.

Source: The Telegraph