This eerily beautiful crystalline cave houses a deadly environment, where the temperature never drops below 58 degrees Celsius (136 F), and the humidity hovers around 99 percent. Even dressed in protective gear, humans can withstand the dangerous conditions for only about ten minutes at a time. As a result, tourism is forbidden; only scientists have accessed the cave, with miners acting as guides. The selenite needles require a warm, wet environment to survive, and scientists had to move quickly to study the cave while it was accessible. Microbiologists, working under stringent conditions to prevent contamination, bored into the columns to get samples of life forms that might exist in the fluids trapped inside the crystals. In early 2017, researchers reported finding dormant microbes inside the crystals. They had probably been trapped inside the crystals at least 10,000 years ago and possibly as long as 50,000 years ago. Some bacteria living in the cave do not match any other known life forms on the planet. Although the microbes were dormant when the scientists found them, the researchers were able to reanimate them in the lab to get more information about what they are and conditions in the cave when they were trapped. These “bugs” are referred to as “extremophiles” because they can exist and survive very extreme conditions of heat, humidity, and chemistry. Today, with the cessation of mining operations, the pumping has stopped. Reflooding has preserved the crystals for now, but it has also introduced new organisms into the chamber that are foreign to the environment.