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Searching for life in fire and ice.

Leaving no stone unturned, scientists are gearing up to conduct an all-out search for life hiding in rocks, glaciers, boiling springs, and other unusual places. A number of federal programs are mounting projects in this vein, and researchers discussed their plans at a press conference in Washington, D.C., last week.

The National Science Foundation has solicited proposals for a new initiative, Life in Extreme Environments, which will fund $6 million in studies in 1998. "The goal is to gain the knowledge to provide the basis for understanding how life originated and developed on Earth and how life may thrive today or [have thrived] in the past on other planets," says Mike Purdy of NSF.

Other projects are investigating life beneath the ocean floor, specifically the 50,000-kilometer-long volcanic ridge that winds its way around the world. Recent studies have shown that volcanic eruptions from this midocean ridge release huge numbers of bacteria that apparently thrive under the ocean floor, says S. Kim Juniper of the University of Quebec in Montreal. Along with studies of life existing within continental rock (see p. 192), these marine investigations are expanding the envelope of the known biosphere.
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Title Annotation:Life in Extreme Environments initiative to fund $6 million in studies in 1998
Author:Monastersky, Richard
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Mar 29, 1997
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