Life In The Atacama

Our mission here is to look for signs of life in the Atacama desert which really have closest habitat we can find on Earth that resembles Mars.  So our goal is to drive Zoe rover which has our drill and few other instruments to various locations (now it stands total of 8 locales) to look for signs of any life on subsurface as deep as 80cm.  This test could potentially help us to put better robots and instruments on Mars in upcoming years.

There are signs of life, even if water is really scarce hereWe’ve encountered another life

If there is life, also death. After all, Atacama is driest desert on Earth. According to Raul, this is remainder of small donkey that lives on better part of the desert who ended up here. What’s so sad about this is that the pit next to it is from donkey trying to find water. We don’t know where the other half and the head is gone, but hair and some skin are still intact, also its last meal.

One of the ways we can find the life here is to dig and dig! This is 80 cm pit which Raul and I worked for few hours in completion. Different layers of composition are so well defined. Kim was really supportive while digging, verbally that is.

Kim Warren the scientist, collects samples from various depth from our final locale which has great potential of life in the Atacama. This reconnaissance mission to help her out while Zoe is on the move is helping me tremendously to get a different perspective of subsurface than drill samples.

Zoe prepares for shutdown as Sun goes down on Atacama.

There are abundant beautiful rocks around the mountainous regions of Atacama. One of many interesting rocks I found here.

Sometimes, we forget sense of how harsh it is out here when we come across a scene like this. Night is also spectacular, and star gazing has become habitual.

Everything here is so spectacular…

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