The primary purpose of this expedition was to assist with teaching high school science teachers how scientists are striving search for life on other planets.  Within this context, we collected baseline temperature data, conduct reconnaissance and obtain information related to two caves in Parque Nacional Valle de la Luna and collected microbes from two sea caves on the coast near Antofagasta, Chile.  This study was partially funded by NASA’s Spaceward Bound Program.

 

Publications

Azúa-Bustos, A., C. González-Silva, L. Salas, J. J. Wynne, C. P. McKay, R. E. Palma, and R. Vicuña.2010. Atacama Desert Caves as Analog Models of Habitability for Microbial Life on theSurface of Mars, Abstract # 5030, Astrobiology Science Conference, Mountain View, CA.

Wynne, J. J., T. N. Titus, and G. Chong Diaz. 2008. On Developing Thermal Cave Detection Techniques for Earth, the Moon and Mars. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 272: 240–250.

Azua-Bustos, A., C. Gonzalez, R. Mancilla, L. Salas, R. Palma, J. J. Wynne and C. P. McKay. 2009. Ancient Photosynthetic Eukaryote Biofilms in an Atacama Desert Coastal Cave. Microbial Ecology 58: 485-496.

Wynne, J. J., T. N. Titus, M. G. Chapman, G. Chong, C. A. Drost, J. S. Kargel, and R. S. Toomey III. 2007. Thermal behavior of Earth Caves: a Proxy for Gaining Inference into Martian Cave Detection. Abstract #2378, LPSC XXXVIII, Houston, TX.

Azua-Bustos, A., C. Gonzalez, and J. J. Wynne. 2008. Possible Cave-Limited Cyanobacteria from the Atacama Desert, Chile, 2008 AbSciCon, Session 14. Earth Analog Studies for Astrobiology: ASTEP and Beyond, Astrobiology 8:348.