Dr. Azua-Bustos Wins Chilean Scientific Photo Contest

The Chilean National Commission for Scientific Research and Technology (CONICYT) recently sponsored a photography contest, and our own Dr. Armando Azua-Bustos has won first place!

CONICYT Photo Contest - 1st Place by Dr. Armando Azua-Bustos

The photo (above) was taken inside a cave of the Coastal Range of the Atacama. Here, Dr. Azua-Bustos and colleagues found a very primitive microalgae of the Cyanidium genus, which was able to photosynthesize with extremely low levels of light. This finding is of astrobiological interest because if photosynthetic life exists on Mars, then it may well be found in a similar environment–such as at the bottom of a cave away from its entrance in order to not to be affected by external UV radiation but yet close enough to the entrance in order to capture a minimum amount of light for photosynthesis.

The individual that is sampling at the entrance of the picture is Dr. Azua-Bustos’ colleague Carlos González, from the Center of Environmental Research of the Universidad Arturo Prat.