Biology: Going to the Extremes

Extremophiles are organisms that have adapted to live and thrive in extremely harsh environments here on Earth.  If these organisms can live in places where other living things can’t, it makes you wonder if these types of organisms could be living in extreme conditions on other planets and moons in our solar system.

In this activity, you’ll be viewing a short NASA video on extremophiles, define different types, and identify extreme locations in our solar system that certain types of extremophiles could be living.  


Astrobiologists, let’s get started!

First, view Where do we Find Extremophiles?  

Second, jot down these types of extremophiles on paper.  Leave room for writing the definitions.  

Acidophiles –

Alkaliphiles –

Thermophile – 

Psychrophile – 

Xerophile – 

Barophile – 


You can find the definitions on this page within this online biology dictionary: Extremophile.  

Now that you’re familiar with some types of extremophiles, you’ll be identifying which types could be living in some interesting extreme places in solar system.

Write down each of the following places on your paper and using the description, identify at least one type of extremophile that could exist there. Write it down next to the location.

  1.  Io – moon of Jupiter, most volcanic body in the solar system due to tidal heating (gravitational forces pulling from Jupiter and three other large moons of Jupiter.) 
  1. South Pole Crater on Earth’s moon – Ice deep in crater is never exposed to sunlight.
  2.  Mars equator region – extreme cold and dry surface.
  3.  Europa – the icy moon of Jupiter, covered by a fractured layer of ice, but scientists think that below the ice is a slushy, liquid ocean
  4.  Venus – extremely dry, scorching heat, excessive ultraviolet radiation, atmosphere mainly carbon dioxide and thick clouds of sulfuric acid.
  5.  Jupiter – gas giant, primarily hydrogen, extreme atmosphere creates great pressure at the core.
  6.  Enceladus – one of Saturn’s moons, liquid salty ocean below the icy crust, ocean may contain hydrothermal vents.

Now that you have all the information, create a chart to teach someone about Extremophiles.  Include all your definitions, and types of extremophiles possible at each location. Upload the document to earn credit for this activity.