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How was the Universe Created?

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Author Topic: How was the Universe Created?  (Read 2425 times)
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« Reply #135 on: August 17, 2008, 03:50:20 am »


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   posted 06-18-2006 01:45 AM                       
Arctic Glacier Stain Catches Interest of Space Scientists After Tests Find New Life Forms
By Christopher Hogg

Digital Journal — A team of researchers are heading to the high Arctic in a Canadian-led expedition that will look for minerals that could provide clues about extraterrestrial life.

After geologist Benoit Beauchamp’s previous journey to the arctic turned up a massive sulphur-coated glacier spring on Ellesmere Island, scientists are curious to know more about the natural oddity.

Beauchamp discovered the spring in the mid-1990s when he noticed a yellow stain on the snow while flying above the Borup Fiord Pass in a helicopter. He returned to the area and noticed the strong smell of rotten eggs that indicated the presence of sulphur. Beauchamp’s colleague, Dr. Steve Grasby, came back in 1999 and 2001 to collect samples of water and mineral deposits.

Early testing showed the glacier spring contains new forms of bacteria and an extremely rare mineral known as vaterite. The bacteria have survived in one of the coldest and harshest environments on Earth and scientists say nothing like it has ever been found before.

“That yellowish stain has attracted the attention of NASA and the Canadian Space Agency because it has a link to extraterrestrial life,” Beauchamp, the executive director of the Arctic Institute of North America, told “What we're finding more and more is there is life within the ice and beneath the ice.”

The Arctic Institute of North America is a non-profit research institute of the University of Calgary. Their team is eager to begin exploring the arctic sulphur deposit because signs of life in Canada’s arctic suggest it’s also possible life could exist on Jupiter’s second moon Europa. Scientists say the glacial spring in the arctic will provide critical information for understanding and uncovering what lies beneath the icy surface of Jupiter’s second moon, Europa.

NASA is currently planning on sending a robot probe to Europa to drill through ice for signs of life. But scientists will have to do so without contaminating ice, as Europa is widely regarded as one of the leading candidates to determine if we are alone in the universe.

In their voyage to the arctic, scientists also want to determine the source of the sulphur.

"We really want to try and understand the plumbing system for this spring and where all this sulphur is coming from," Beauchamp says. "This is a very unusual feature on the earth's surface and it's an extreme ecosystem that could be a good model for how life first begins in a harsh environment."

The Canadian Space Agency and NASA are funding the two-week expedition to the Arctic beginning June 21.
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