Start Date

5-2020 12:00 AM

Description

Expansive evaporite mineral deposits and other geological features on Mars are evidence of ancient lacustrine systems before the planet experienced global climatic change (~3.5 Ga). On Mars, as the surface water dried up, hypersaline lakes would have filled the ancient lake basins. On Earth, the Bonneville Basin, in the western United States, tells a similar story in a more recent timeframe. Today, the bottom of this basin is the modern Great Salt Lake (GSL) and the Bonneville Salt Flats. Evaporation of this freshwater lake left large evaporitic mineral deposits that continually supply salt to modern GSL. Parts of the lake are at salt saturation due to shrinking shorelines and human intervention, and it is here that haloarchaea thrive. The current Martian ultraviolet flux, magnetosphere, lack of tectonic activity, and desiccation suggests that continued life would be challenging. However, microorganisms such as GSL haloarchaea may resist these extreme conditions, especially if entombed in minerals. We propose GSL haloarchaea as excellent analogues for life that could have been in hypersaline lakes on Mars and may remain preserved in the evaporitic minerals there.

Comments

Due to COVID-19, the Symposium was not able to be held this year. However, papers and posters were still submitted.

Available for download on Saturday, May 01, 2021

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May 1st, 12:00 AM

Great Salt Lake Halophilic Archaea as a Model For Possible Extant Life on Mars

Expansive evaporite mineral deposits and other geological features on Mars are evidence of ancient lacustrine systems before the planet experienced global climatic change (~3.5 Ga). On Mars, as the surface water dried up, hypersaline lakes would have filled the ancient lake basins. On Earth, the Bonneville Basin, in the western United States, tells a similar story in a more recent timeframe. Today, the bottom of this basin is the modern Great Salt Lake (GSL) and the Bonneville Salt Flats. Evaporation of this freshwater lake left large evaporitic mineral deposits that continually supply salt to modern GSL. Parts of the lake are at salt saturation due to shrinking shorelines and human intervention, and it is here that haloarchaea thrive. The current Martian ultraviolet flux, magnetosphere, lack of tectonic activity, and desiccation suggests that continued life would be challenging. However, microorganisms such as GSL haloarchaea may resist these extreme conditions, especially if entombed in minerals. We propose GSL haloarchaea as excellent analogues for life that could have been in hypersaline lakes on Mars and may remain preserved in the evaporitic minerals there.