Yes the frozen desert of Antarctica has been called the last and only true frontier on Earth. And who is exploring this frontier?
I will just let the WOMEN tell you about it.
On a personal note, Saint Mary's ladies, this one is for YOU!
Just click on the photo above, then a clip will start (after one add). The segment is a clip from the Today Show, Feb 5, 2007. Note that the entire show is longer and continues on Tuesday Feb 6th as well.
Female explorers at the bottom of the world
Extremophiles (see photo) are organisms that thrive in extreme environments. Examples of these extremes are: hot (240F), cold (-90F), acidic (salty), basic, dark, highly pressurized, (1,100 times atmospheric pressure), high radiation or toxicity levels, low O2 levels, and there are even those that thrive on a very low consumption of carbon sources (metabolites). Just think, if humans were to endure one of the many items on this list, we would not survive. And yet these microbes do just that, and have done for millions of years.
Objectives of Research: The central objectives of Dr. J. Priscu's Antarctic research are to monitor the physical, chemical, and biological activity of the extremophiles found in the lake ice of four different Antarctic lakes.
Methods: One means of doing this will be to anaylyze the presence of chlorophyll-a using fluorescence. Another is to look at the activity of phytoplankton found in the gathered samples and major ions using ion chromatography (IC). Anions and cations are analyzed in separate runs on the IC.
Major anions: F-, Cl-, Br-, NO3-, and SO42-.
Major cations: Li+, Na+, NH4+, K+, Mg2+, and Ca2+. Dissolved organic and inorganic carbon sources, organic nitrogen, ammonium, nitrite, nitrate, and phosphate, are some of the other molecules we are interested in.
Assortment of Phytoplankton found at lake sites (see: photo Lake Bonney):
Protozoans & Other