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JHotz
2005-Oct-23, 01:05 AM
Is it possible to engineer a life form capable of living in space base on earth biology? The parameters of this question are an organism that can survive the vacuum and radiation. Does not have to find food or air as we can supply that. I am looking for some ideas on how the space issues could be dealt with bilogicaly.

TheBlackCat
2005-Oct-23, 02:13 AM
There is no way. All creatures based on Earth biology require a water solvent. In a vacuum the water would freeze and the life form would die. The need for water cannot be avoided using any Earth life-form.

SirBlack
2005-Oct-23, 02:46 AM
Perhaps we could design an organism with a strong insulated outer skin or shell. That could protect it from radiation and allow it to maintain a reasonable internal pressure and temperature.

Movement it going to be a problem though. The organism would need something like a rocket engire to propel itself around to any great extent. I can't imagine it would be easy (or even possible?) to have a biological rocket engine. But if we're already providing all the food and air for this organism, we could also provide a way for it to move. Maybe attach a rocket to it or something. Though at that point, I'd have to wonder just what the purpose of this organism is anyway? If we're having to provide for all its needs, how does it provide any benefit over an inanimate spacecraft?

TheBlackCat
2005-Oct-23, 05:02 AM
No insulation is perfect. The life form can only last so long before it will freeze no matter how much insulation it has. The creatures more able to survive in extreme environment, bacteria, archae, and insects, are relatively small. This would mean they would dissipate their heat relatively quickly.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Oct-23, 05:08 AM
I can maybe see something that lives in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter, but in naked vacuum? No way.

SirBlack
2005-Oct-23, 06:39 AM
No insulation is perfect. The life form can only last so long before it will freeze no matter how much insulation it has. The creatures more able to survive in extreme environment, bacteria, archae, and insects, are relatively small. This would mean they would dissipate their heat relatively quickly.

True, but there are two possible sources of heat for this creature. One source would be the sun. The creature could be designed to absorb as much heat as possible (as opposed to reflecting it). Of course, this method by itself would put serious limits on where this creature could survive in the solar system. Heat loss would have to balance the heat gained from the sun. Too far away from the sun and it would eventually freeze, too close and it would overheat. But then there's the second option of engineering this creature to generate its own heat. Though it might require a strong metabolism and a lot of food. I suppose the creature could do a bit of both, throttling its metabolism depending on how much heat it's absorbing from the sun.

JHotz
2005-Oct-23, 09:23 AM
Thank you for responding to my post
No insulation is perfect. The life form can only last so long before it will freeze no matter how much insulation it has.You are correct. Energy must be continuously added in any environment though.
The creatures more able to survive in extreme environment, bacteria, archae, and insects, are relatively small. This would mean they would dissipate their heat relatively quickly.Sounds correct to me as well. I appreciate the points about the organism’s size. Consider that many things deal with a warm cold cycle. The most well know are seasonal such as in a bear hibernating. It stores up extra reserves and shuts down in the cold. The most readily available energy in space is usually radiant heat. Heavy insulation will block the absorption of that heat. What is needed is a large thermal mass that can be selectively exposed to the radiant heat as well as enclosed in an insulative configuration. The thermal mass could be biologically inactive and the ratio of thermal mass to biomass could vary with the extremes and duration of temperature variation.

I believe that heat is lost and gained in three ways convection, conduction, and radiant. In the vacuum the losses from convection and conduction are negligible. Therefore the temp loss would not be as bad as in the air or water. Some radiant heat lost could be reflected back with the right kind of barrier.

JHotz
2005-Oct-23, 09:43 AM
Thank you for responding to my post.
Perhaps we could design an organism with a strong insulated outer skin or shell. That could protect it from radiation and allow it to maintain a reasonable internal pressure and temperature.I suggested variable configuration in the previous post. I suggest the skin would also need to resist space debris impacts.
Movement it going to be a problem though. The organism would need something like a rocket engire to propel itself around to any great extent. I can't imagine it would be easy (or even possible?) to have a biological rocket engine. But if we're already providing all the food and air for this organism, we could also provide a way for it to move. Maybe attach a rocket to it or something. Biological rockets already exist in the octopus. Perhaps a more efficient means of chemical rocket is what you mean though. The temperatures and pressures necessary to make a rocket efficient seem a little harsh for a purely biological construction. Perhaps solar sails or solar wind sails.
Though at that point, I'd have to wonder just what the purpose of this organism is anyway? If we're having to provide for all its needs, how does it provide any benefit over an inanimate spacecraft?That is the right question. My thoughts are to exploiting the superior efficiency in energy and material of biological systems in both construction and use when compared to artificial systems. For example could a space habitat pumpkin seed be taken to the moon instead of hauling the entire habitat up.

JHotz
2005-Oct-23, 09:50 AM
Thank you for responding
Of course, this method by itself would put serious limits on where this creature could survive in the solar system. Heat loss would have to balance the heat gained from the sun. Too far away from the sun and it would eventually freeze, too close and it would overheat. But then there's the second option of engineering this creature to generate its own heat. Though it might require a strong metabolism and a lot of food. I suppose the creature could do a bit of both, throttling its metabolism depending on how much heat it's absorbing from the sun. You have just sparked some interesting concepts in my head. Consider an organism able to use radioactive material in its body for energy. Perhaps and internal reactor. How about many cell sized reactors.

eburacum45
2005-Oct-23, 06:03 PM
I expect we will eventually engineer living creatures which can live in space; the temperature and energy flux near the sun is quite high so these hypothetical creatures could certainly live in the near solar region without freezing, and there would be plenty of light to power the living processes of such a creature.
But there is precious little material in space for such a creature to absorb as nutrients- the best bet would be for such a creature to exploit Near Earth Objects, slowly converting the asteroid into bodymass using solar energy. When the creatures have used up all the usable material in one object they could spread solar sails and navigate to another object.

Another energy rich location that might be useful is the magnetic field of a gas giant- spreading organically derived dynamo tethers in a magnetic field could supply enough energy to keep an organism alive.

Of course your definition of an organism would need to be pretty broad; but it seems likely to me that genetic engineering will produce some rearkable things in the long term.

galacsi
2005-Oct-23, 06:08 PM
For example could a space habitat pumpkin seed be taken to the moon instead of hauling the entire habitat up.

An english SF writer have already used this idea .

I cannot see how a living animal or beast can live in space all by itself. Very harsh conditions , very few matter so no food ...

But may be, we human being can use a genetically modified organism to build some space struture by growing it. You will have to give the beast or the plant the water and nutriments it needs and it grow and grow . a tough scally or hairy exterior hardened with wood for protection against radiations and micrometeorites. A hollow interior with natural partition ,corridors , shelves evrything .... maybe a tap or two with beer or wine !

JHotz
2005-Oct-23, 07:37 PM
Thank you for responding to my post.
But there is precious little material in space for such a creature to absorb as nutrients- the best bet would be for such a creature to exploit Near Earth Objects, slowly converting the asteroid into bodymass using solar energy. When the creatures have used up all the usable material in one object they could spread solar sails and navigate to another object.Perhaps a some of the resource needed could be collected from the solar wind. The solar sails could double as collectors.
Another energy rich location that might be useful is the magnetic field of a gas giant- spreading organically derived dynamo tethers in a magnetic field could supply enough energy to keep an organism alive.Interesting proposition! Perhaps resources could be culled from the upper atmoshpere as well.


Of course your definition of an organism would need to be pretty broad; but it seems likely to me that genetic engineering will produce some rearkable things in the long term. Right on.

JHotz
2005-Oct-23, 07:48 PM
Thank you for responding
An english SF writer have already used this idea .I am interested. Do you recall the book or author.
I cannot see how a living animal or beast can live in space all by itself. Very harsh conditions , very few matter so no food ...People live in space. My question is not so much if an organism can be self sufficient in space, rather if biological methodoligies can be exploited in space.


But maybe, we human being can use a genetically modified organism to build some space struture by growing it. You will have to give the beast or the plant the water and nutriments it needs and it grow and grow . a tough scally or hairy exterior hardened with wood for protection against radiations and micrometeorites. A hollow interior with natural partition ,corridors , shelves evrything .... maybe a tap or two with beer or wine !Thats the ticket. I like the idea of a hairy spaceship. Consider that many of the resources to be had on planetary surfaces are mixed in with the soil. Plant roots excel at selective extraction of resources from the soil.

galacsi
2005-Oct-23, 08:51 PM
Hi

I found the man and the book :


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_F._Hamilton

The book in fact a trilogy is the "NIGHT's DAWN TRILOGY" .


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Night%27s_Dawn_Trilogy

I don't remember in which book the author mention these biological habitat.
If you like space opera this trilogy is worth the read.

All his books are rather good , even if i don't like his politics at all. But his book "Fallen dragon" is an impressive anticipation of the Iraq war.
The guy is clever or very well informed.

eburacum45
2005-Oct-23, 09:00 PM
Of course Freeman Dyson came up with the idea of a space living organism many years ago-
the Dyson Tree
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyson_tree
a fictional take on this concept:
http://www.orionsarm.com/civ/Dyson_Trees.html

my picture of a dyson tree...
http://img66.imageshack.us/img66/8955/carson4vm.th.jpg (http://img66.imageshack.us/my.php?image=carson4vm.jpg)

click for larger image
the most important aspect of a Dyson tree would be a transparent but impermeable outer membrane. Inside the tree waste products would need to be recycled by symbiotic organisms; human beings would probably count as one such symbiote, as they produce carbon dioxide and other wastes which the trees could utilise. In fact, the inside of aDyson Tree would be essentially a CELSS - A Closed Ecological Life Support System;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CELSS

JHotz
2005-Oct-23, 11:23 PM
Of course Freeman Dyson came up with the idea of a space living organism many years ago-
the Dyson Tree
my picture of a dyson tree...
the most important aspect of a Dyson tree would be a transparent but impermeable outer membrane. Inside the tree waste products would need to be recycled by symbiotic organisms; human beings would probably count as one such symbiote, as they produce carbon dioxide and other wastes which the trees could utilise. In fact, the inside of aDyson Tree would be essentially a CELSS - A Closed Ecological Life Support System;
Thanks for the info. Water from comet ice makes sense. What terrestrial organisms can get water from ice? I know mammals will eat snow. I am having trouble concieving how a tree could get water from ice. Perhaps a solution, produced by the tree, could lower the freezing point below the commets temp.

SirBlack
2005-Oct-24, 12:03 AM
Biological rockets already exist in the octopus. Perhaps a more efficient means of chemical rocket is what you mean though. The temperatures and pressures necessary to make a rocket efficient seem a little harsh for a purely biological construction. Perhaps solar sails or solar wind sails.

Yeah, I was thinking along the lines of chemical rockets. While an octopus moves just fine by expelling a jet of water through pressure alone, it essentially has an unlimited supply of water to expel. It doesn't matter if this method is efficient with respect to amount of material expelled because the octopus can always take in more water for another burst. In contrast, a space creature has a much more limited supply of material to work with. So if it moves by expelling matter in some way, it needs to get a lot of effect using a small amount of matter otherwise it will run out of fuel very quickly. That leads me to think a chemical reaction would be necessary. And indeed, powerful chemical reactions seem quite difficult for a living creature to deal with.

I hadn't been thinking about solar sails. That would be a better idea, at least if the creature is allowed to take a relatively long time traveling to its destination.


That is the right question. My thoughts are to exploiting the superior efficiency in energy and material of biological systems in both construction and use when compared to artificial systems. For example could a space habitat pumpkin seed be taken to the moon instead of hauling the entire habitat up.

If you mean an orbiting habitat, then there's a problem. While the intial "seed" would be small, you already said you would be supplying it with all the food it needs. The material for the full grown structure comes from that food. So in this case, you would still be hauling the mass of the entire habitat up there, just in a different form. Furthermore, whatever mechanism this creature uses to digest its food almost certainly will not convert 100% of that food into its body. You would end up hauling considerably more mass in food to supply this creature than the resulting mass of a full grown creature.

Still, it might be possible to supply this creature with some portion of its needs from the Moon rather than from Earth. That might help turn it into a more practical option.

This makes me think that perhaps this idea would be more suited to creating a habitat on the surface of the Moon rather than in orbit. (or is that would you originally meant?) The organism could then draw a lot of raw material directly from the lunar surface which could be used to form at least its shell and supporting structure. It would probably still need some form of resources supplied from Earth. The big question would now be whether this would be more efficient (in terms of mass moved from Earth to the Moon) than more traditional ideas. Speculating on that part is way beyond my ability.

eburacum45
2005-Oct-24, 12:25 AM
Freeman Dyson again;
the Astrochicken
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrochicken

JHotz
2005-Oct-24, 12:48 AM
powerful chemical reactions seem quite difficult for a living creature to deal with.Not so. Check out the Bombardier beetles in one of these posts.
I hadn't been thinking about solar sails. That would be a better idea, at least if the creature is allowed to take a relatively long time traveling to its destination.If the organism could manipulate magnetic fields it could not only sail the solar wind but swim through it.
If you mean an orbiting habitat, then there's a problem. While the intial "seed" would be small, you already said you would be supplying it with all the food it needs. The material for the full grown structure comes from that food. So in this case, you would still be hauling the mass of the entire habitat up there, just in a different form. Furthermore, whatever mechanism this creature uses to digest its food almost certainly will not convert 100% of that food into its body. You would end up hauling considerably more mass in food to supply this creature than the resulting mass of a full grown creature.There is particulate matter in space as well as energy. Perhaps not enough variety for everything but maybe enough to make it viable.

Still, it might be possible to supply this creature with some portion of its needs from the Moon rather than from Earth. That might help turn it into a more practical option.
This makes me think that perhaps this idea would be more suited to creating a habitat on the surface of the Moon rather than in orbit. (or is that would you originally meant?) The organism could then draw a lot of raw material directly from the lunar surface which could be used to form at least its shell and supporting structure. It would probably still need some form of resources supplied from Earth. The big question would now be whether this would be more efficient (in terms of mass moved from Earth to the Moon) than more traditional ideas. Speculating on that part is way beyond my ability.Speculating is what you have been doing. Thank you for you input.

galacsi
2005-Oct-26, 08:59 PM
I found something for you

http://www.spacedaily.com/news/life-05zzzzzzzb.html

reality going ahead our imagination ?

JHotz
2005-Oct-26, 11:40 PM
I found something for you

http://www.spacedaily.com/news/life-05zzzzzzzb.html

reality going ahead our imagination ?
Thanks for the great link.