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
FEB 16, 2020
Space & Astronomy
ISS Poised to Receive Fresh Supplies by Tuesday
FEB 16, 2020
ISS Poised to Receive Fresh Supplies by Tuesday
Life on the International Space Station isn’t quite as convenient as it is for the rest of us here on Earth. With ...
MAR 15, 2020
Space & Astronomy
ExoMars Rover Launch Delayed Until 2022
MAR 15, 2020
ExoMars Rover Launch Delayed Until 2022
2020 was expected to play host to a plethora of Martian missions, including the United States’ Mars 2020 rover, wh ...
MAR 23, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Here's Why the Planets Orbit the Sun How They Do
MAR 23, 2020
Here's Why the Planets Orbit the Sun How They Do
All the solar system’s planets follow nearly the same plane and direction as they orbit the Sun, and this is somet ...
MAR 29, 2020
Space & Astronomy
United States Space Force Launches First Mission
MAR 29, 2020
United States Space Force Launches First Mission
Despite all the measures that are currently in place to keep as much of the general public away from public places as po ...
MAY 18, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Top Secret Military X-37B Space Plane Heads Back to Outer Space
MAY 18, 2020
Top Secret Military X-37B Space Plane Heads Back to Outer Space
Not much is known about the United States’ Space Force’s top-secret X-37B military space plane apart from th ...
JUN 08, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Space Agencies Are Developing Novel Space Junk Cleanup Tools
JUN 08, 2020
Space Agencies Are Developing Novel Space Junk Cleanup Tools
There are thousands of satellites orbiting the Earth today, with some residing in Low-Earth Orbit and others following a ...
Loading Comments...