NASA Studies Life's Limits in China's Extreme Deserts
Searching for clues to the potential for life on Mars, NASA scientists recently explored microbial communities in some of the world’s oldest, driest and most remote deserts, in China’s northwest region, and found evidence suggesting that conditions there may be similar to those in certain regions of Mars.
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Map of approximate area of sandy and gobi deserts (shamo) and sandy lands (shadi) in China.
Dark gray: sandy deserts and lands; light gray: gobi desert. Redrawn from Zhu et al. (1980): 1. Taklimakan Shamo; 2. Gurban Tonggut Shamo; 3. Kumtag Shamo; 4. the shamo in the Qaidam Basin; 5. Badain Jaran Shamo; 6. Tengger Shamo; 7. Ulan Buh Shamo; 8. Qubqi Shamo; 9. Mu Us Shadi; 10. Ortindag Shadi; 11. Horqin Shadi; 12. Hulun Buir Shadi; and 13. shamo in Turpan Depression. Triangles identify site locations in this study. In China, if greater than 50% of an area is gravel or cobble plains, it is denoted as a gobi desert (Walker, 1981)
+ Additional Images from China's northwest region