Deep below the surface of the Beverhead Mountains of Idaho, a research team led by Derek Lovley, head of the microbiology department at the University of Massachusetts, and Francis H. Chappelle of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), has found an unusual community of microoganisms that may hold the key to understanding how life could survive on Mars. Their findings are spelled out in the Jan. 17 issue of the journal Nature (vol. 415). “The microbial community we found in Idaho is unlike any previously described on Earth,” said Lovley. “This is as close as we have come to finding life on Earth under geological conditions most like those expected below the surface of Mars.