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High Lakes 1

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A LAKE AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD: The highest volcanic lakes in the world are located in the Andes Mountains of South America. Their elevation and isolation make them some of the least understood lakes on Earth and excellent analogs for lakes that existed on Mars 3.5 billion years ago. Simba Lake, at an elevation of 5,872m in the Chilean Andes, is red because of algae that developed pigments to protect themselves against high UV radiation. They float in the water near the surface, not deep enough to use the water column as a natural protection. Astrobiologists working there study the impact of rapid climate change on lake habitat and life’s adaptability in an effort to understand the evolution of the early environments of both Mars and Earth. Image Credit: High Lakes Project/NASA Astrobiology Institute/SETI CSC/NASA Ames Research Center
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