"Doorway to Hell" explored, life thriving deep inside

If you've ever wondered how to actually get to hell when someone suggest you go there, a giant crater in Turkmenistan just might be the portal. A giant crater, colorfully dubbed the "doorway to hell", opened up roughly forty years ago. Scientists have now explored the giant crater, and the results are interesting.

The massive hole in a Turkmenistan desert is full of those things you'd expect to find in a portal of it's namesake. Fire lurks below the surface, which is the only change in landscape on the barren plain.

Believed to be the result of drilling in the region, the fire is likely manmade. It's believed Russian scientists set it ablaze to torch noxious gasses that were emitting. The pit was recently explored by explorer and storm chaser George Kourounis, but not just for fun.

The pit resembles environments on other planets, with the spewing fire and methane-rich airspace. In diving to the depths of the crater, he found bacteria that thrived in the environment. Those bacteria existed nowhere around the crater, suggesting they may have come to pass by means of the heat and other elements present in the hole.

As for what this could mean for life outside of the gates to hell, Kourounis said "Outside of our solar system, there are planets that do resemble the conditions inside this pit, and [knowing that] can help us expand the number of places where we can confidently start looking for life outside of our solar system. It may be many, many years down the road, but now at least we know some new places where we can start looking."

Source: National Geographic