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Imagine That! - Aliens Among Us

Imagine That!
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Imagine That! - Aliens Among Us

Credit: NSF/Finger Lakes Productions International

Audio Transcript:

Okay, so they haven't found life on Mars yet. But that's what they said about the driest place on earth -- until recently.

Imagine that!

(SOUND: howling wind)

If you want to know what it's like on the planet Mars but can't afford a ticket, check out the Atacama desert in Chile. It's fifteen thousand feet above sea level, and dry as an armadillo's tail bone -- except there are no armadillos or any other life to be found. At least, that's what scientists thought.

Then a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, Dr. Raina Maier, scratched below the surface and found aliens among us.

Maier: "The exciting part is that we found life in those very, very dry samples; we could culture that and we could extract and look at its DNA.

(SOUND: western music)

All right, so Dr. Maier didn't find little green men. No aliens. Actually, they're little bacteria. Another example of life researchers are finding in extreme environments where they never before believed it could exist.

Life. Where on earth -- or anywhere else -- will it turn up next? I'm Eric Phillips.

"Imagine That!" covers projects funded by the us government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you by you! Learn more at

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