News – UK – Microbes from Earth May Temporarily Survive on Mars: Study


Washington, 22 February (IANS) When NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars last week, a new study by scientists in US space agency and the German Aerospace Center found that some microbes on Earth were temporarily on the surface of the red planet could survive

The researchers tested the endurance of microorganisms under Mars conditions by introducing them into the Earth’s stratosphere as they accurately represent the key conditions on Mars

This work, published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, paves the way to understanding not only the threat posed by microbes to space missions, but also the opportunities for resource independence from Earth

“We have successfully tested a new method to expose bacteria and fungi to Mars-like conditions by flying our experimental devices into the Earth’s stratosphere with a scientific balloon,” said Marta Filipa Cortesao, joint lead author of this study from Germany aerospace and space center in Cologne

“Some microbes, especially black mold spores, were able to survive the trip even when exposed to very high levels of UV (ultraviolet) radiation”

Understanding the endurance of microbes for space travel is critical to the success of future missions

When searching for extraterrestrial life, we must be sure that everything we discover has not just traveled with us from Earth

“For long-term crewed missions to Mars, we need to know how microorganisms associated with humans would survive on the Red Planet, as some could pose a health risk to astronauts,” said joint first author Katharina Siems, based at the German Air Center – and space travel

“Also, some microbes could be invaluable to space exploration. They could help us produce food and materials off Earth, which will be vital from far away from home”

Many key features of the Martian surface environment cannot be found or easily replicated on the surface of our planet, but conditions are remarkably similar above the ozone layer in the Earth’s middle stratosphere

“We brought the microbes into the stratosphere within the payload of the MARSBOx experiment (microbes in atmosphere for radiation, survival and biological results), which was kept under Martian pressure and filled with Martian artificial atmosphere throughout the mission,” explained Cortesao

“Although not all microbes survived the trip, a black mold previously discovered on the International Space Station, Aspergillus niger, was resuscitated upon its return,” explains Siems, highlighting the importance of this ongoing research

Mars, Earth, NASA, Microorganism

News – UK – Microbes from Earth may temporarily survive on Mars: study