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. "It is much cheaper than travelling to Mars," said Armando Azua, a Chilean astrobiologist at the Blue Marble Space Institute in the U.S., who grew up in one of the Atacama's few populated areas.
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