Glaciers and ice layers as analogous environments of potentially habitable icy worlds

Earth is not the only planet that is partially covered with ice. Other planets and satellites in our Solar System also have large icy areas, glaciers and icy poles similar to terrestrial ones. We also know that the frozen regions of the Earth are populated by organisms that are capable of living and colonizing permanently frozen places. These organisms, and especially microorganisms, are adapted to the cold thanks to the lipids, proteins and extracellular polymeric substances that provide them with cryoprotection. These organisms that live in the terrestrial ice allow us to pose some interesting astrobiological questions: could these microorganisms survive on other planets and icy satellites? What characteristics would have to have a frozen world so that it was habitable? Which organisms would be best adapted to withstand those conditions? Which cold planet or satellite of our environment would be the best candidate to be habitable?

Work published by Eva García-López and Cristina Cid in Frontiers in Microbiology


Figure: schematic diagram of environment formation cold.



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Fuente: UCC-CAB

 

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