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Lanzarote’s lava tubes, a laboratory to search for life on Mars

The Tubolan project, led by geomicrobiologist Ana Miller, studies the microorganisms in the lava tubes of the Canary Island in order to apply the knowledge to space expeditions. The research is the continuation of a project led by Miller in 2017 as part of the European Space Agency’s PANGAEA-X programme.

Ana Miller, Jesús Martínez Frías y Francesco Sauro, they study the micro-organisms that live in the extreme conditions inside the lava tubes. What they learn will be used to search for life on the Moon and, especially, on Mars.

“If life did exist on Mars, it would probably be microbial and would develop in the subsurface. These would be chemolithoautotrophic microorganisms, which are capable of using and transforming minerals in order to develop and grow,” explains Ana Miller, a geomicrobiologist at the Institute of Natural Resources and Agrobiology of Seville (IRNAS), part of the CSIC.