FEB 02, 2016 1:31 PM PST

Fungi & Lichens Survive 18-month Trial in Mars-like Conditions

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Because Mars is a big area of interest right now, especially with NASA and SpaceX wanting to send people to the red planet within the next couple of decades, you can bet we’re performing experiments in space to see just how habitable the red planet really is; can it support life?
 
An experiment recently took place on board the International Space Station, which involved attaching a special atmosphere controlled experimentation platform to the outside of the space station, made by the European Space Agency, to simulate the Martian atmosphere.
 
Inside of the experimentation platform, which was called the EXPOSE-E, were samples of fungi and lichens that were collected from rocks in Antarctica from Earth. The goal of the experiment was to see how well these fungi and lichen species could survive in the Martian conditions.
 

An astronaut affixes the EXPOSE-E platform to the ISS.


The inside of the module had an atmosphere that was 95% carbon dioxide, 1.6% argon, 0.15% oxygen, 2.7% nitrogen, and 370 parts per million of water at a pressure of 1000 pascals. To further simulate the Martian environment, ultraviolet radiation was controlled to simulate radiation from the Sun since Mars has a significantly weaker magnetic field than the Earth does.
 
The fungi and lichens stayed inside of this controlled Martian-like environment for 18 months before scientists decided to look at the results.
 
Interestingly, the fungi and lichens had performed significantly well in the Martian-like environment, despite the doubts the researchers had. The findings are published in the journal Astrobiology.
 
“The most relevant outcome was that more than 60% of the cells of the endolithic communities studied remained intact after ‘exposure to Mars’, or rather, the stability of their cellular DNA was still high,” highlights Rosa de la Torre Noetzel from Spain’s National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA), co-researcher on the project.
 
Although 60% doesn’t seem like a high amount, it is when you consider living for a year and a half in conditions very different from here on Earth, where the air you rely on is significantly different, along with protection from radiation.
 
The new data gives scientists a better understanding of the long-term side effects of the Martian environment on life, and raises more questions as to how the Martian environment may impact other life forms.
 
This type of testing can also be used to invent technologies to help the life forms better survive in these conditions.

Source: SINC

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
OCT 31, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
OCT 31, 2019
Neutron Star Merger Fused Atomic Nuclei, Spilled Out Heavy Element
It is safe to say that we live in a world of hydrogen and helium, the lightest elements in the periodic table. Born minutes after the Big Bang, the two mak...
NOV 17, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 17, 2019
Hayabusa-2 Departs Ryugu Asteroid to Return to Earth with Samples
It’s been just over a year since JAXA’s renowned Hayabusa-2 mission arrived at asteroid 162173 Ryugu to study the dynamics of the distant space...
JAN 13, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 13, 2020
Lunar Dust is Actually Quite Dangerous to Humans
Most people have a tendency to think that lunar dust isn’t any different than the dirt found here on Earth, but quite the opposite is true. In fact,...
FEB 04, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
FEB 04, 2020
A Gamma-Ray Burst Like Nothing Else Before
Gamma-ray bursts (GRB) are among the most explosive and energetic celestial events that have been observed by astronomers. Since its first detection back i...
FEB 04, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 04, 2020
What Are NASA's 'Great Observatories?'
NASA recently retired its Spitzer Space Telescope, one of four specialized space-based observatories that together made up the American Space Agency’...
FEB 24, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 24, 2020
What Will Space Tourism Be Like in the Future?
Space tourism that something that, at one point, was once considered to be a thing of science fiction. While only a limited number of people not registered...
Loading Comments...