Super Bacteria From Earth Can survive in Space - Seeker's Thoughts

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Super Bacteria From Earth Can survive in Space


Microbiologists have been working for decades studying extremophiles, organisms that can endure extreme condition.
 A new study published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, A type of bacteria that is highly resistant to radiation and other environmental hazards survived outside of the international Space Station.


Experiment on the international space station, show that the bacteria called, “Deinococcus radiodurans” can survive at least three years in space. According to a study led by Akihiko Yamagishi, a microbiologist at Tokyo University of pharmacy and Live sciences. The results also suggest that microbial life could travel between planets unprotected by rock.


The Japanese Tanpopo the mission which means dandelion in Japanese involved pellets of dried Deinococcus bacteria within aluminum plates that were placed in exposure panels outside of the space station.

The bacteria (Deinococcus) is found on Earth and has been nicknamed Conan the Bacterium by scientists for its ability to survive cold, dehydration, and acid. And it’s known as the most radiant-resistance life form in the Guinness Books of world Records.
The bacteria can resist 3,000 times the amount of radiation that would kill a human and be first isolated in cans of meat subjected to sterilizing radiation.


The mission was designed to test the “PANSPERMIA” theory which suggests the microbes can pass from one planet to another and actually distribute life.

In 2018, the team of Akihiko used an aircraft and scientific balloons to find this bacteria that was actually floating 7.5 miles above Earth’s surface.


Now the team of Akihiko wonder if this bacteria, which was resistant to ultraviolet radiation could actually survive in space even the journey to other planets through extreme temperature fluctuations and even harsher radiation.

What are the results of this new research?
The authors, Researchers say the result entirely depended on the thickness of the bacteria. Those that were larger than 0.5 millimeters were able to partially survive, sustaining DNA damage.

Though the bacteria on the surface of the aggregate, or colony formed by the bacteria, died, the researchers found a protective layer beneath it that ensured the colony survived.
These results support the possibility of pellets as an ark for interplanetary transfer of microbes within several years.


The bacteria studies inside the space station didn’t fare so well, where oxygen and moisture proved harmful to the bacteria.

According to the scientists estimates bacteria pellets thicker than 0.5 millimeters could survive between 15 and 45 years outside of the space station in low-earth Orbit.
The team predicted those colonies of the bacteria more than 1 millimeter in diameter could survive as long as eight years on outer space.


The results seem that radioresistant Deinococcus could survive during the travel from earth to mars and vice versa, which is several months or years in the shortest orbit.

However, the previous studies have shown that bacteria could survive longer in space if it was shielded by rock, known as lithopanspermia, but this study has shown that bacteria aggregates or colonies can survive in space which is called massapanspermia.

Akihiko and his team’s result believes that it is very important to search for life on Mars before human missions to Mars. Bacteria from Earth could present a false negative for life on Mars or act as a contaminant on Mars.

NASA’s Perseverance Rover
NASA’s perseverance Rover, which  presently en route and due to land on Mars in February after launching in July went through ultra-careful cleaning from assembly to prelaunch.
Apparently the rover will collect the sample, and returned to Earth in the next 10 year, that could contain a proof of ancient life that once flourished on the red planet.


So the team of researchers considering how microbial pellets could end up in the space Akihiko and his team suspect that bacteria could potentially be launched from Earth by the electric field generated in thunderstorms, landing the way that micrometeorites do in the atmosphere of Earth.

According to Akihiko tens of millions of kilograms of micrometeorites are reaching to the Earth’s surface every year. A similar landing process may be present in the thin atmosphere of Mars.


His team are interested in conducting more exposure experiments for microbes of NASA’s Lunar Gateway.

According to NASA, the lunar gateway will act an outpost orbiting the moon which provides support for the sustainable, long-term human return to the lunar surface, as well as a staging point for deep space exploration, it’s a very critical component of NASA’s Artemis program, that aims to land the first woman and next man on the lunar surface by 2024.


Conclusion
On a conclusive note Akihiko said “scientists can have totally different points of view on the matter. Few think that life is very rare and happened only once in The universe, while others think that life can happen on every suitable planet. If panspermia is possible, life must exist much more often than we previously thought”.

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