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7. Are you conducting an experiment in the Rio Tinto region of Spain partly because iron and minerals in the area may resemble similar deposits on Mars?(2:27 minutes)
Dr. Carol Stoker: "We certainly know that the surface of Mars is rich in iron compounds. Thats the reason for the color of the surface of Mars. The primary way that one or the primary way that sulfide minerals are formed is in episodes of basaltic volcanism. Usually, theyre formed under the seafloor in whats called mid-oceanic ridges, or hydrothermal vents. These require essentially basaltic volcanism. So, volcanoes which are spreading basalt, and high temperature and pressure environments. We dont actually know that these types of minerals are produced on Mars, but we do know that there are a theres a lot of basalt. Theres a lot of basaltic volcanism. And there is apparently a lot of ground ice. So, theres reasonable line of reasoning that would lead you to believe that sulfide, and iron sulfide-type minerals should have been produced on Mars. In terms of the exploration of this type of a biosphere, theres only one previous kind of subsurface biosphere thats ever been identified that can exist completely independently of the surface, living on types of energy that is that are derived from minerals, and living without oxygen. And that type of a biosphere is located in umm, deep basalt, aquifers like exist in the Columbia River. And this is a type of ecosystem that lives just two things carbon dioxide and hydrogen. The type of ecosystem that were exploring in the Rio Tinto is a different type of ecosystem from that, and we dont actually know going in whether we will, in fact, find a subsurface ecosystem there. There are several lines of reasoning that lead us to believe that we should, but its not, by any means, a proven fact that we will. So, I mean, thats what science is about. You have to have a hypothesis. And then you go investigate it. So, our hypothesis is that there is that there is a subsurface ecosystem, and our experiment is about finding out."
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