"One of the big questions now is is this finding regionally specific, or are there many locations in Antarctica where we have conditions that have created these subsurface environments for life," Ross Virginia, an ecosystem ecologist at Dartmouth College, told Discovery News.
In a paper published in Nature Communications, lead researcher Jill Mikucki, with the University of Tennessee, and colleagues note that while few subsurface aquatic environments have been sampled, all were found to be teeming with life.
NEWS: Antarctic Lake May Contain Extreme Life Forms
Earlier this month, scientists using temperature and humidity measurements taken by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity realized that conditions were right for salty liquid water to exist close to the planet's surface. On Mars, perchlorates in the soil lower the freezing temperature of water, a different chemistry than what exists in Antarctica.
"The subsurface aquifers that we've been looking at in the (Antarctic) are potential analogs to understanding Mars systems," Mikucki told Discovery News. "We still have a lot to learn about these dry valley aquifer systems, but they appear to be related to climate changes."