In the northern Mexican state of Cohuilla lies the Cuatro Cienegas Basin. Dotting the landscape are small pools, formed by natural springs, in which are found live stromatolites. These stony layered structures are formed by colonies of cyanobacteria that trap sedimentary grains. Their major presence in the fossil record of several billion years ago is evidence of some of the earliest life on Earth. The biological reserve of Cuatro Ciénegas could have strong links to discovering life on Mars, since the adaptability of bioforms in the region is unique in the world.

The image was acquired April 1, 2017, covers an area of 14.9 by 23.8 km, and is located at 26.9 degrees north, 102.1 degrees west by the ASTER instrument aboard the Terra satellite.

With its 14 spectral bands from the visible to the thermal infrared wavelength region and its high spatial resolution of about 50 to 300 feet, ASTER images Earth to map and monitor the changing surface of our planet. ASTER is one of five Earth-observing instruments launched Dec. 18, 1999, on Terra. The broad spectral coverage and high spectral resolution of ASTER provides scientists in numerous disciplines with critical information for surface mapping and monitoring of dynamic conditions and temporal change. Example applications are monitoring glacial advances and retreats; monitoring potentially active volcanoes; identifying crop stress; determining cloud morphology and physical properties; wetlands evaluation; thermal pollution monitoring; coral reef degradation; surface temperature mapping of soils and geology; and measuring surface heat balance.

Image Credit: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

Cuatro Cienegas盆地位于墨西哥北部的科韦拉州。点缀风景的是由天然泉水形成的小池塘,里面有活的叠层石。这些石质层结构是由聚集在沉积颗粒中的蓝藻菌群形成的。它们主要存在于数十亿年前的化石记录中,是地球上一些最早生命存在的证据。Cuatro Cienegas的生物保护区可能与发现火星上的生命有很强的联系,因为该地区生物形态的适应性在世界上是独一无二的。



图片来源:NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team