The Earth's Driest Place
Armando Azua-Bustos (credit: Atacama Biotech)
Astrobiologist Armando Azua-Bustos studies Chile's Atacama Desert, the driest place on Earth. He still finds life there.
Imagine algae that has the ability to "mine" fog by growing spider-like webs or bacteria that utilize intense UV light as an energy source. Azua-Bustos investigates such extreme adaptations to the hyper-aridity of the Atacama by studying microbes known as extremophiles. Such organisms potentially represent natural analogs to help identify similar environments on Mars where life may exist. His latest ecological discoveries were presented to a TED conference audience.