The McMurdo Dry Valleys form the largest relatively ice-free area on the Antarctic continent. The perennially ice-covered lakes, ephemeral streams and extensive areas of exposed soil are subject to low temperatures, limited precipitation and salt accumulation. The dry valleys thus represent a region where life approaches its environmental limits. This unique ecosystem has been studied for several decades as an analog to environments on other planets, particularly Mars. For the first time, the detailed terrestrial research of the dry valleys is brought together here, presented from an astrobiological perspective. Chapters include a discussion on the history of research in the valleys, a geological background of the valleys, setting them up as analogs for Mars, followed by chapters on the various sub-environments in the valleys such as lakes, glaciers and soils. Includes concluding chapters on biodiversity and other analog environments on Earth.

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