Ars Technica: One of the least hospitable places on Earth, Antarctica’s McMurdo Dry Valleys, features a frigid desert with high winds, rocky ground, extremely low humidity, and minimal ice cover. In fact, NASA has used it to simulate conditions on Mars. Nevertheless, life exists in the form of bacteria, which have been found to live under the ice in super-salty lakebeds. Researchers studying Lake Vida, one of the largest lakes, have found it to be not only extremely cold, at −12 °C, but also rich in organic compounds. It hosts at least 32 species of bacteria from 8 different phyla, they report in a paper published online yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Because the chemicals differ among the different lakes, the researchers propose that each could host distinct ecosystems with different sources of chemical energy. Such findings lend credence to the possibility of similar ecosystems on other icy worlds such as Europa or Mars.