Canada experts to study alien-like spring

June 14, 2006

Canadian scientists will soon visit Ellesmere Island in Canada's High Arctic, where unusual sulfur springs may point to how life evolves on other planets.

And the scientific expedition to the remote glacier field might also provide insights for future exploration of our solar system.

A team assembled by the University of Calgary's Arctic Institute of North America plans to spend two weeks studying a sulfur-spewing spring on the surface of the ice field not far from the North Pole.

The spring was discovered by Institute Executive Director Benoit Beauchamp, who, along with adjunct professor Steve Grasby from the Geological Survey of Canada and two graduate students, will conduct the first extensive study of the spring.

Initial tests have indicated the geological oddity is home to a unique form of bacteria that has adapted to thrive in a cold and sulfur-rich environment.

The Canadian Space Agency and NASA are helping fund the expedition because it will likely provide the best example on Earth for the conditions believed to exist on the surface of Jupiter's moon, Europa.

The scientists will travel to the glacier June 21.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: NASA's field campaign investigates Arctic North American ecosystems

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