Bacteria on Earth could survive on Mars


Invisible life is tenacious and is everywhere. Even humans are constantly bubbling millions of microbes and dead skin cells into the room air. It is virtually impossible to prevent microbes from also ending up in space on board man-made devices.

But if they do end up, could they survive on Mars?

The toughness of microbes in space has been extensively studied.

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Very radiation resistant Deinococcus radiodurans -bacteria survived outside the International Space Station in space for as long as three years, was observed last year. It could easily praise eight months on Mars.

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However, there was a considerable amount of bacterial growth in the experimental device and in layers. Although the upper bacterial layers died, they protected the inner ones. Such quantities would not accidentally end up in space equipment.

Researchers at NASA and the German space agency DLR were now trying to figure out how more common microbes and fungi would tolerate conditions resembling the surface of Mars.

On Earth, this is accomplished by sending microbes aboard the research globe high into the atmosphere. At an altitude of about 40 kilometers there are already cold and ruthless conditions. The air is thin, and above the ozone layer, UV radiation bombards organisms. They dry up in a pile without protection.

There are even harsher conditions in outer space, but the upper atmosphere is somewhat reminiscent of what it would be like on the surface of Mars.

“If a microbe can survive there, it can also survive on its way to Mars – at least for a while,” says the researcher David Smith in the bulletin. The study was published Frontiers in Microbiology journal.

Microbes such as staphylococcal bacteria and mallow fungal spores were loaded aboard the Marsbox. There were also bacteria living on Earth in conditions somewhat like Mars.

The organisms were packaged in a gas mixture that mimicked the thin atmosphere of Mars, consisting mainly of carbon dioxide. When the device had risen to a suitable height, the Microbial Container Hatches were opened. The organisms were exposed to UV radiation and frost for five hours.

This alone was enough to staple a large part of the buttocks, but some survived. Especially club mold Aspergillus niger proved surprisingly tough. The spores were functional and were caused to multiply again when the device landed back on the earth’s crust.

“Fungal spores are insanely tough, resistant to heat, chemicals and other stressors. The fact that we were able to revive them after the experiment shows that they can survive wherever a person goes, even in space, ”explains the microbiologist. Marta Cortesão From the German Space Agency.

Producing black mold Aspergillus niger is a very common fungus in the soil. It thrives on the walls of moisture-damaged houses.

Also a bacterium that lives on Earth in very salty conditions Salinissphaera shabanensis persevered to survive. There may be underground salt lakes on Mars where bacteria like this could live – if there has ever been life on Mars.

The most important thing would be that we do not take life to Mars. It would be embarrassing if the ATV found signs of life, and the discovery would be revealed to be a moldy spore that traveled from Earth.

It is also theoretically possible that if there is life on Mars, microbes migrating from the earth could take over and rivet Mars ’own life to death.

It would be like the conquest of America at the microbial level. After all, Europeans took diseases into the new world for which the indigenous population had no protection.

Therefore, all equipment sent into space is carefully sterilized. The Perseverance that had just entered Mars and the ship carrying it were assembled in extremely sterile facilities and the parts were wiped with disinfectants. In cleaning hydrogen peroxide gas was used and parts of the ATV were heated to up to 200 degrees.

Not all butts can still be stapled. The limit of NASA was that the total vessel may have less than 500,000 microbial spores in total. Speaking of microbes, this is a negligible amount. That wouldn’t be enough to cover the lens of a smartphone camera, compare Nasa. The ATV itself was allowed to have 40,000 bacterial spores when it left Earth.


Source: Tiede by www.tiede.fi.

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