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Survival of rock-colonizing organisms after 1.5 years in outer space

Onofri, S. and de la Torre Noetzel, R. and de Vera, J.P. and Ott, S. and Zucconi, L. and Selbmann, L. and Scalzi, Giuliano and Venkateswaran, Kasthuri J. and Rabbow, E. and Sánchez Iñigo, F.J. and Horneck, G. (2012) Survival of rock-colonizing organisms after 1.5 years in outer space. Astrobiology, pp. 508-516. Mary Ann Liebert New Rochelle New York. DOI: 10.1089/ast2011.0736.

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Cryptoendolithic microbial communities and epilithic lichens have been considered as appropriate candidates for the scenario of lithopanspermia, which proposes a natural interplanetary exchange of organisms by means of rocks that have been impact ejected from their planet of origin. So far, the hardiness of these terrestrial organisms in the severe and hostile conditions of space has not been tested over extended periods of time. A first long-term (1.5 years) exposure experiment in space was performed with a variety of rock-colonizing eukaryotic organisms at the International Space Station on board the European EXPOSE-E facility. Organisms were selected that are especially adapted to cope with the environmental extremes of their natural habitats. It was found that some—but not all—of those most robust microbial communities from extremely hostile regions on Earth are also partially resistant to the even more hostile environment of outer space, including high vacuum, temperature fluctuation, the full spectrum of extraterrestrial solar electromagnetic radiation, and cosmic ionizing radiation. Although the reported experimental period of 1.5 years in space is not comparable with the time spans of thousands or millions of years believed to be required for lithopanspermia, our data provide first evidence of the differential hardiness of cryptoendolithic communities in space.

Document Type:Article
Title:Survival of rock-colonizing organisms after 1.5 years in outer space
AuthorsInstitution or Email of Authors
Onofri, S.DECOS, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Largo dell’Università, Viterbo, Italy;
de la Torre Noetzel, R.Department of Earth Observation, Area of Atmospheric Research and Instrumentation, INTA, 28850 Torrejón de Ardoz, Madrid, Spain
de Vera, J.P.jean-pierre.devera@dlr.de
Ott, S.Institute of Botany, Heinrich-Heine-University, Universitätsstr.1, 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany
Zucconi, L.DECOS, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Largo dell’Università, Viterbo, Italy;
Selbmann, L.DECOS, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Largo dell’Università, Viterbo, Italy;
Scalzi, Giuliano Department of Ecological and Biological Sciences, University of Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy and Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA
Venkateswaran, Kasthuri J. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, USA.
Rabbow, E.Elke.Rabbow@dlr.de
Sánchez Iñigo, F.J. Department of Earth Observation, Spanish Aerospace Research Establishment-INTA, Torrejón de Ardoz, Madrid, Spain.
Horneck, G. Institute of Aerospace Medicine, DLR, Köln, Germany.
Date:May 2012
Journal or Publication Title:Astrobiology
Refereed publication:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Page Range:pp. 508-516
Publisher:Mary Ann Liebert New Rochelle New York
Keywords:Astrobiology, Lithopanspermia, Radiation resistance, Survival, Vacuum
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Space Science and Exploration
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R EW - Erforschung des Weltraums
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Vorhaben Exploration des Sonnensystems
Location: Köln-Porz , Berlin-Adlershof
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Planetary Research
Institute of Aerospace Medicine
Institute of Planetary Research > Experimentelle Planetenphysik
Institute of Aerospace Medicine > Radiation Biology
Deposited By: Dr. Jean Pierre Paul de Vera
Deposited On:11 Dec 2012 14:59
Last Modified:26 Mar 2013 13:44

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