With new and compelling evidence for water existing beneath the south pole of Mars, a West Virginia University professor says this underground lake is likely to be extremely salty and more acidic than battery acid. Life forms that can survive in extreme physical and geochemical conditions are found in abundance in acid salt lakes such as those in Chile and western Australia, she said.

Kathleen Benison Professor, Dept. of Geology and Geography WVU Eberly College of Arts and Sciences

“Acid brines could easily exist as liquid on Mars because their composition makes them more compatible with Mars temperatures and atmosphere than pure H2O. Although the acid salt lakes in western Australia and Chile are among the most extreme waters on Earth today, they host a variety of extremophilic microorganisms, including novel bacteria, archaea, algae and fungi, that only live in acid brines. This strongly suggests that similar extremophilic life may be thriving today on Mars.”