PDA

View Full Version : Bacteria still dying on Voyager.



Noclevername
2014-Oct-27, 12:18 AM
https://what-if.xkcd.com/117/

What If XKCD has once again provided an insightful and humorous view of something often discussed here; How many bacterial spores can dance on could survive on a human-built spacecraft?


If we assume that 1 in 1,000 bacterial spores on Voyager were of a space-tolerant variety, and 1 in 10 of those is somewhere on the craft where UV light doesn't reach it, then that still leaves on the order of 10 million viable bacterial spores traveling on Voyager.

If they suffer a death rate of 30% per six years, as in one of the studies, then there would still be a million of them alive after 50 years, dying at a rate of 1 every 10 minutes. On the other hand, the author of the 2008 study speculated that microbes could avoid hits from cosmic radiation for extremely long time periods, and other sources have speculated about survival for thousands or even millions of years. But no one really knows.

For our Voyager bacteria, there's a higher death rate at first, for spores in more exposed positions, and a much lower one for the more protected ones. Today, it's quite possible there are thousands of bacterial spores still alive on Voyager 1 and 2, lurking quietly in the dead of space. Every few hours, days, or months, one of them degrades enough to no longer be viable.


Alas, poor micro-Yorick!

Jens
2014-Oct-28, 02:36 AM
Yeah, it was great. That is one site that I pretty religiously read every week. This week, not only did it teach me something about microbes, but also something about Shakespeare.

Hypmotoad
2014-Oct-28, 06:31 AM
Shakespear ...he wrote A Clockwork Orange right?

Romanus
2014-Nov-17, 12:25 AM
FWIW, Huygens wasn't sterilized, either, and unlike Voyager it is protected from intense radiation and vacuum. The bacteria on it could last a very, very long time, and if they ever come in contact with warmth and nutrients...

Blackhole
2014-Nov-27, 05:30 AM
I wonder how much it would cost for me to grab a ticket on the next voyager. I'm sick of this planet. I'd even wear a pair of shades for science's sake... how long do you think I'd last in zero gravity??

Jens
2014-Nov-27, 06:01 AM
I wonder how much it would cost for me to grab a ticket on the next voyager. I'm sick of this planet. I'd even wear a pair of shades for science's sake... how long do you think I'd last in zero gravity??

I wouldn't worry about the zero g. It's the zero air and Zero oxygen that will do you in. Or the zero water if you've got lots of air. No matter how sick you are of earth, voyager would surely make you sicker.

Grashtel
2014-Nov-27, 04:22 PM
I wouldn't worry about the zero g. It's the zero air and Zero oxygen that will do you in. Or the zero water if you've got lots of air. No matter how sick you are of earth, voyager would surely make you sicker.

Briefly

Noclevername
2014-Nov-28, 03:19 AM
I wonder how much it would cost for me to grab a ticket on the next voyager. I'm sick of this planet. I'd even wear a pair of shades for science's sake... how long do you think I'd last in zero gravity??

Voyager has no passenger seating. You'd have ride on the outside.

rudinesbitt
2014-Dec-05, 02:07 PM
Maybe you could Dr Strangelove it, with a cowboy hat...
_______________________________
Jura giga 5 (http://juragiga5v.com/)

Hypmotoad
2015-Mar-13, 05:10 PM
So it is possible that we have earthly ambassadors already on the way to the stars in the form of bacterial endospores?

publiusr
2015-Mar-14, 08:33 PM
It would be nice if we could sample the very last to die--and sequence its genome.