We tend to assume that every sample of surface soil on planet Earth should be crawling with microbes, but in a corner of Antarctica (University Valley), not only one of the driest and coldest (-9 °F mean year-round) spots on Earth, but also high in elevation, scientists have failed to find life (i.e. microbial activity).
Now this would be a big “whoopie-doo!” from most quarters until you realize that these conditions in University Valley would be considered to be utterly luxurious in any place on Mars.
It was a big surprise for NASA. University Valley was specifically chosen to simulate the conditions around the Mars Rover.
Lyle Whyte, McGill university professor, said that if there is indeed no life here, which is what this study indicates, then the likelihood of finding life on Mars, where conditions are even colder and drier, is slim indeed.
“If we cannot detect activity on Earth, in an environment which is teeming with microorganisms, it will be extremely unlikely and difficult to detect such activity on Mars.”