Why a toxic volcanic lake on Earth reminds scientists of Mars


Courtesy of Justin Wang

Courtesy of Justin Wang

By Ashley Strickland, CNN

Earth may be the only planet we know with a dazzling array of life, but that doesn’t mean our world is always friendly.

In the beginning, Earth was a harsh and stuffy place. Somehow, life managed to form and take hold, persisting as the planet cooled and became more hospitable. Vestiges of this primordial world are still visible today, like postcards from the past.

Along the ocean floor, blistering hydrothermal vents spit streams of toxic minerals from the gaps between tectonic plates, fueled by heat from magma beneath the Earth’s crust. Again hundreds of species congregate around these ventsaway from the sun.

Deep in the Costa Rican rainforest is a bright blue lake filled with toxic metals. Pungent clouds of steam drift around the active volcanic crater, home to one of Earth’s most acidic lakes.

Located near the summit of Poás Volcano, Laguna Caliente is prone to frequent eruptions, releasing bursts of ash, rock, and steam — and occasionally bubbling magma.

Scientists believe this otherworldly cauldron could suggest how organisms might have existed on Mars billions of years ago, revealing new places to search for evidence of ancient life on the Red Planet.

The International Space Station, where humans have lived continuously in space for more than 20 years, will fall to Earth and plunge into a watery grave in the Pacific Ocean in January 2031, according to a new NASA plan.

For the next eight years, the space station will still be a hive of activity, as astronauts come and go and prepare for the first crewed mission to Mars.

Parts of the UK are experiencing an early spring due to unusually warm weather caused by the climate crisis. Eventually, this shift could lead to a February start to spring on a regular basis.

While that might seem like a nice change from the arctic winter blasts, it’s a big cause for concern, scientists say.

Changes in temperature over time caused the flowers to bloom a month earlier than usual in the British Isles. This creates a mismatch between the plants and the insects, birds and wildlife they affect.

A weather satellite is about to be our new eye in the sky – and it’s watching you, Western Hemisphere.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will launch GOES-18 on March 1.

It will monitor weather conditions affecting the western United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Central America and the Pacific Ocean 22,236 miles (35,785 kilometers) above the planet.

This region of the globe experiences raging wildfires, dense fog, hurricanes and other storms that arrive from the ocean – but weather patterns born here have impacts elsewhere.

Congratulations to Elmer and Lima, two adult male Humboldt penguins who just became parents for the first time to a chick.

The couple are the first same-sex adoptive parent to successfully hatch an egg at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York.

Some biological penguin parents unintentionally damage their eggs when bickering over who does what. That’s exactly what happened to Elmer when his parents accidentally broke his egg and it was fixed with glue. To avoid this, the eggs are often transferred to penguin foster parents, and this time it was Elmer and Lima’s turn.

Do you like what you read? Oh, but there’s more. register here to get the next edition of Wonder Theory, brought to you by the CNN Space and Science writer, delivered to your inbox Ashley Stricklandwho marvels at the planets beyond our solar system and the discoveries of the ancient world.

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