exploring the Death Valley territory

Extremophiles

One word has exemplified the Death Valley territory more than any other over the years, and that word is extreme. This is a very extreme place when one considers the environmental climate conditions found here. Extremophiles are tiny microscopic organisms that thrive in the extreme heat on the floor of Death Valley, existing under and within salt fissures in ground heat exceeding 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The American Heritage Dictionary describes an extremophile as: “n. An organism adapted to living in conditions of extreme temperature, pressure, or chemical concentration, as in highly acidic or salty environments.”

Space scientists come here to study them for clues to life on Mars. This is because extremophiles produce evaporites when the water around them evaporates, and these same evaporites have reportedly been discovered on the Red Planet, leading top researchers of the field to postulate that large amounts of water once existed on our neighboring planet. Where there is water, there is usually life. Therefore, extremophiles of Death Valley are playing a very important role, even though they may be invisible to most area visitors.

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