This handout file photo taken on Aug. 27, 2003 and provided by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shows Mars snapped within minutes of the planet's closest approach to Earth in nearly 60,000 years. AFP PHOTO / EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY/D.DUCROS
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Astrobiologists seeking to understand where life might be found on Mars, and what form it might take, are finding that the Atacama desert in Chile, the driest in the world, may hold some important clues.Since a 2003 study that examined microbial life in the 'Mars-like soils' of the Atacama, astrobiological research – the study of life on Earth to understand how it may form elsewhere in the universe – in the desert has grown dramatically.Still, even in this harsh environment, scientists have found life – usually at the microbiological level – clinging on.
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