Submitted by Visit Rainier
Life On Mars
The ice caves and lake on Mt. Rainier’s cratered summit are being studied for their potential for life and similarity to conditions on planets like Mars and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn.
Cold As Ice
Some of Rainier’s glaciers are home to ice worms, which are endemic to the glacially clad mountains that flank the Pacific coast from Oregon to Alaska. The worms feed on bacteria and algae on the surface of the ice and their concentrations can reach 6,000 individuals per square meter.
On January 29, 1979, two pilots crash landed just below the summit of Rainier in temperatures near 25 below zero. The pilots managed to radio for help and survive by spending the night huddling in a steam cave at the crater. They were rescued and treated only for burns.
Botanist Ola Edwards made the astonishing discovery that Rainier’s heather communities are truly ancient. Individual plants may live 50 years and it takes up to two centuries for the plants to establish a community. Once successful, the community endures. Carbon dating stems, collected underneath heather mats, revealed they were more than 7,000 years old.
What Does the Fox Say?
Mt. Rainier is one of the only homes of the Cascade Red Fox. This rare species migrated to the Cascade Range as glaciers receded in the American Midwest.