The accidentally discovered fungi resisting radiation where it grew near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant excited the scientists back in July. However, these new results of an intentional experiment helped the scientists gain even more insights into the issue.
A group of scientists from Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Sciences in Japan, sent a specific type of bacteria to space and found out that they remained alive in space even after three years they had been sent.
“The results suggest that radioresistant Deinococcus could survive during the travel from Earth to Mars and vice versa, which is several months or years in the shortest orbit,” said Dr. Akihiko Yamagishi.
The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.
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The bacteria called Deinococcusradiodurans are some of the most radiation-resistant organisms ever. That is where the idea of sending them for some radiation exposure stemmed from.
Dr. Yamagishi and his team sent the bacteria aggregates of various width to the International Space Station, and they were placed outside the spacecraft on aluminum plates. Each year starting from 2018 reports were sent back to Earth.
At the end of three years, it was found that aggregates of 0.5 mm managed to survive to a certain extent. The bacteria on the surface of the aggregates died but the ones inside survived this is thanks to the dead bacteria that served as shields. The researchers presumed that a pellet thicker than 0.5 mm had the potential of living outside the ISS between 15 to 45 years, which equals an average indoor cat’s life span.
“We don’t know where life emerged. If life emerged on Earth, it may (have been) transferred to Mars. Alternatively, if life emerged on Mars, it may (have been) transferred to Earth … meaning that we are the offspring of Martian life,” says Yamagishi.
At the end of July this year, NASA tried its best not to contaminate Mars with Earthly gems before they sent the Perseverance Rover, and worked a very long time on it.
The purpose was to make sure that if any living organism is found on Mars, they are not to be actually sent from Earth. However, now that some organisms are able to prove that they are radiation-resistant, the question of whether life emerges outside the Earth is back to the surface.