stromatolites

Stromatolite rocks in shallow waters

As the Mars Rover sets out to look for evidence of life on another planet, scientists back on Earth suggest viruses played a key role in creating stromatolites, our planet’s earliest lifeforms.

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As NASA’s Perseverance rover lands on Mars, UNSW is playing a key role in the search for life on the red planet. In July 2019, Professor Martin Van Kranendonk took a team of NASA and European Space Agency scientists to the Pilbara, in the Western Australian outback.

Atacama desert

How ancient microbes survived in a world without oxygen has been a mystery. Scientists discovered a living microbial mat that uses arsenic instead of oxygen for photosynthesis and respiration.

Luke Steller teaching students how to find fossils

As Perseverance prepares to launch for Mars, two UNSW PhD students look back on a field trip that gave Indigenous high school students a behind-the-scenes look at the rover’s upcoming mission.

Pyrite

Western Australia’s famous 3.5-billion-year-old stromatolites contain microbial remains of some of the earliest life on Earth, UNSW scientists have found.

Scientist examining rocks

UNSW scientists have shown a group of Mars specialists the secrets of the remote Pilbara's ancient rocks - all in preparation for NASA's and ESA's Mars 2020 missions.

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Australian researchers have found fossils dating back 3.7 billion years in a remote area of Greenland, demonstrating that life emerged rapidly during the planet’s early history.

Stromatolites inside

New studies, by UNSW researchers, of the world's most primitive living things suggest that life on Earth may have begun much earlier than the accepted date of about 3.5 billion years ago.