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Fraser
2005-Nov-09, 05:57 PM
SUMMARY: Scientists have found that hardy bacteria can survive a trip into space, and now the list of natural astronauts includes lichen. During a recent experiment by ESA, lichen astronauts were placed on board the Foton-M2 rocket and launched into space where they were exposed to vacuum, extreme temperatures and ultraviolet radiation for 14.6 days. Upon analysis, it appears that the lichens handled their spaceflight just fine, in fact, they're so hardy, it's possible they could survive on the surface of Mars.

View full article (http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/lichen_can_survive_space.html)
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Spacemad
2005-Nov-10, 12:03 AM
This was a really surprising experiment & the results are extraordinary! I know full well lichens have evolved to endure the most harsh conditions on Earth - but who would have thought they could continue to exist in the vacuum of space, the absence of atmosphere & the high levels of UV as well as the extreme cold! Not only that but they also survived to continue their normal activities back on Earth - if only Isaac Asimov had known about this - he would have to rewrite a chapter in his book "Foundation & Earth"!

Tuckerfan
2005-Nov-10, 12:43 AM
Reminds me of one of the books in The Starchild Trilogy where plant covered asteroids are discovered.

Jeff Thomas
2005-Nov-10, 01:27 AM
Did this article suggest that photosynthesis continued to occur while the lichen was exposed to space? Does anybody know how efficiently lichen converts sunlight into energy compared to a PV cell?

TheBlackCat
2005-Nov-10, 04:58 AM
If there is one life-form that can approach bacteria in terms of hardiness, it is probably the lichen. They are always the first life to colonize a new area after a major natural disaster.

Although, I guess "one life-form" is not exactly right, considering a lichen is technically two life-forms (a symbiotic algae cell and fungus cell).

RodneyK
2005-Nov-10, 04:10 PM
I'm surprised that it has taken so long to do the experiment.
If man is to colonize space at some time in the future, the step after getting there is to terra-form the planet or rock.
Our biosphere has a vast number of extremophiles, possibly relics of past ages of the biosphere's formation. Any success would help humans survive.
RodneyK

John L
2005-Nov-10, 07:57 PM
Did this article suggest that photosynthesis continued to occur while the lichen was exposed to space? Does anybody know how efficiently lichen converts sunlight into energy compared to a PV cell?
The lichen went dormant, but did not die. Once they were returned to the Earth's surface they sprang back into activity.

So why don't we cover the more water rich parts of Mars with these lichen and see what they do?

cran
2005-Nov-11, 01:59 AM
If there is one life-form that can approach bacteria in terms of hardiness, it is probably the lichen. They are always the first life to colonize a new area after a major natural disaster. That wasn't the finding at Mt St Helens - what surprised the scientists who were studying the recovery there, was that the first life they found recolonising the area were small predators - spiders and stuff. As far as I know, they still haven't figured out why that should be ... :think:
Lichen, on the other hand, still represents the first complex life to colonise land in the geologic record (ie, the oldest non-marine terrestrial fossils known).


Although, I guess "one life-form" is not exactly right, considering a lichen is technically two life-forms (a symbiotic algae cell and fungus cell). I think "life-form" is used more broadly than that, otherwise there would be only two or three, and the rest of us living things would be complex symbiotes.

Lichen for Mars? Interesting, JohnL

aurora
2005-Nov-11, 04:08 AM
That wasn't the finding at Mt St Helens - what surprised the scientists who were studying the recovery there, was that the first life they found recolonising the area were small predators - spiders and stuff. As far as I know, they still haven't figured out why that should be ... :think:


Offtopic, but the first plant to pop up in the devastated area was horsetail.

I think the only way to kill it is to use nuclear weapons.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2005-Nov-11, 04:13 AM
Offtopic, but the first plant to pop up in the devastated area was horsetail.

I think the only way to kill it is to use nuclear weapons.
Eh ...

It'd Just Make It, ANGRY!!!

"Oh No, It Is Horsetail, we Must Flee The City!"