Payload of Marsbox in the Earth's middle stratosphere. The shutter is open, exposing the upper layer samples to UV radiation. NASA This story is part of Welcome to Mars , our series exploring the red planet.
Scientists say some microbes from Earth could survive on Mars, at least temporarily, raising new issues and possibilities for future exploration of the Red Planet.
Researchers from NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have sent some microbes into the Earth's stratosphere, where conditions are surprisingly similar to those on the surface of Mars.
" Some microbes , especially the spores of the black mold fungus, were able to survive the trip, even when exposed to very high (ultraviolet) radiation, DLR 's Marta Filipa Cortesão explained in a statement. Science
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Cortesão is one of the main authors of a new study published in Frontiers in Microbiology .
It looks like we may never be able to get rid of this pesky black mold. It could even follow humans to another planet, which researchers are concerned about.
"With long-term crewed missions to Mars, we need to know how the microorganisms associated with humans would survive on the Red Planet, as some may pose a risk to human health. astronauts ", says DLR co-author Katharina Siems. "In addition, some microbes could be invaluable for space exploration. They could help us produce food and materials independent of Earth, which will be crucial when we are away from home. .
Quartz disc with dried spores of Aspergillus niger. This is a difficult mold. German Aerospace Center (DLR)
It is also important to know what might be able to survive interplanetary travel as we search for life on Mars, to avoid a false positive discovery of Martian mold who was re-ally a stowaway on one of our spaceships.
For the study, the team sent the microbes to the stratosphere inside a spec containeroriginally designed called Marsbox (Microbes in the atmosphere for radiation, Survival and Biological Outcomes experience) which simulated the pressure and composition of the Martian atmosphere. The box contained one layer protected against radiation and one unshielded.
"This allowed us to separate the effects of the radiation from the other conditions tested: desiccation, atmosphere and temperature fluctuation during flight ", explains Cortesão. "The top layer samples were exposed to over a thousand times more UV rays than the levels that can cause sunburn on our skin.
Ultimately, the study suggests that among the many challenges involved in Exploring Mars, we must add at least one more familiar issue: this stubborn moldthat you never seem to get rid of.
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