There has been a lot of good News around Mars lately. Recently, the NASA rover called the Perseverance rover landed on Mars. There is another good news from NASA as they say that some Earth organisms could survive on Mars temporarily. This news can have a big impact and reform on how we think of space travel.
Some Earth Organisms Could Survive on Mars Temporarily: NASA
Possible Hazard of This Finding
Now that we know that some Earth organisms could survive on Mars temporarily, there could be some problems. We could unknowingly contaminate Mars and other worlds that we will be exploring with microorganisms from Earth.
How Do We Know That Some Earth Organisms Could Survive on Mars Temporarily
A group of scientists from NASA and the German Aerospace Center launched some fungal and bacterial organisms to the stratosphere back in 2019. This was the part of MARSBOx experiment. So to give you context, Stratosphere is the second major layer of Earth’s atmosphere. It is located just above the Ozone layer.
So the interesting thing is that the stratosphere just has the conditions that resemble the Martian surroundings. This makes it the perfect place to conducts experiments and send samples. If the samples survive the stratosphere then they will most likely survive Mars too.
Now, scientists have published their findings in a paper and they discussed how the spores of black mold survived the trip.
Apparently, the microorganism could only live on the surface of Mars temporarily. However, researchers have found that the spores could be revived after they were brought back to Earth.
The team took fungal spores of Aspergillus niger and Salinisphaera shabanensis, Staphylococcus capitis subsp. capitis and Buttiauxella sp. MASE-IM-9 bacterial cells inside the MARSBOx (or Microbes in Atmosphere for Radiation, Survival, and Biological Outcomes Experiment) aluminum container.
They had two sample layers inside the container. The bottom one was shielded from radiation. This was done so that NASA could study the effects of radiation and effects of other environments.
A balloon took the sample up in the stratosphere. There, the samples were exposed to Martian-like conditions. The samples were also exposed to UV radiation over a thousand times.
It was found out that the microorganism was able to survive the trip temporarily. So what does Aspergillus niger surviving the trip mean for space travel?
As Katharina Siems, a team member from the German Aerospace Center, said, “With crewed long-term missions to Mars, we need to know how human-associated microorganisms would survive on the Red Planet, as some may pose a health risk to astronauts. In addition, some microbes could be invaluable for space exploration. They could help us produce food and material supplies independently from Earth, which will be crucial when far away from home.”
Further Reading: Some Earth Organisms Could Survive on Mars Temporarily
Interestingly, last year NASA updated its policies to make a stronger approach to space flights. This emphasized mainly to preventing the Moon and Mars from human contamination.
The agency does not want to unknowingly take some organisms from the Earth to other worlds. This could contaminate the environment of other worlds. It could also compromise the search for extraterrestrial life. Also, bringing them back to Earth can have a negative effect on our environment too.
Article Reference VIA
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