Read our COVID-19 research and news.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Soil without detectable life discovered in Antarctica

A pair of mountains in Antarctica might literally be the loneliest place in the world. Not even bacteria or fungi seem to live at the top of these freezing peaks, National Geographic reports. Researchers found no signs of life in soil from the mountains, which they analyzed by testing for the presence of DNA in the samples they collected, the team reported last month in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences. If confirmed by independent scientists, the sites would be the first known places on Earth’s surface that host no microbial life. What’s more, experts say the conditions resemble the surface of Mars, and so could help future explorers learn more about conducting missions on the Red Planet.

*Clarification, 21 June, 12:10 p.m.: This article has been updated to reflect that a small number of microbes may be present at the sites in levels that the researchers were unable to detect in their study.

Latest News