Watch a Researcher Zip Line Over the Door to Hell for Science

By Gizmodo on at

The more biologists look, the stranger the places they find life. Whether it's in the boiling mud ponds of Yosemite or in radioactive seams miles beneath the surface of the Earth, microbes seem capable of surviving just about anywhere. That's why one team is heading to the deep desert of Turkmenistan to see if life can even thrive at the Door to Hell.

Forget the Belinda Carlisle hit. Hell is a place on Earth, too. Quite literally, in fact. Deep within the deserts of Turkmenistan lies the Door to Hell, as it's known to the locals. It's a 230 foot wide boiling pit of flames, mud, and sulphur fumes created from the region's enormous natural gas reserves, and it's been burning non-stop since Soviet petrochemical scientists set it alight back in 1971.

Watch a Researcher Zip Line Over the Door to Hell For Science

Image: flydime

However within this burning landscape, a team of researchers led by Canadian explorer George Kourounis, hope to uncover unknown forms of microbes that may help them better understand how and where exoplanetary life might be hiding. But first, Kourounis must first zipline to the centre of the crater and descend to its floor to collect samples. Eat your heart out, Steve Zissou.

National Geographic hosted this expedition as part of its Die Trying television series. You can see another clip from the show below or watch the entire episode Wednesdays at 10pm. [Nat Geo - Wiki]