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High Lakes 2

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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. Laguna Verde, at an elevation of 4,340m in the Bolivian Altiplano, embodies many of the qualities of an ancient Martian environment, including low average temperature, high-daily temperature variations, thin atmosphere, and both volcanic and hydrothermal geology. Astrobiologists are studying the impact of rapid climate change on these lakes and their ability to sustain life in a highly dynamic environment. Their results could shed light on the fate of life that may have arisen on Mars in the past and become extinct as the planet’s geology and climate evolved. Image Credit: High Lakes Project/NASA Astrobiology Institute/SETI CSC/NASA Ames Research Center
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