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Mosses in Low Earth Orbit: Implications for the Limits of Life and the Habitability of Mars

Huwe, Björn and Fiedler, Annelie and Moritz, Sophie and Rabbow, Elke and de Vera, Jean Pierre Paul and Joshi, Jasmin (2019) Mosses in Low Earth Orbit: Implications for the Limits of Life and the Habitability of Mars. Astrobiology, 19 (2), pp. 221-232. Mary Ann Liebert Inc.. doi: 10.1089/ast.2018.1889. ISSN 1531-1074.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/ast.2018.1889


As a part of the European Space Agency mission “EXPOSE-R2” on the International Space Station (ISS), the BIOMEX (BIOlogy and Mars EXperiment) investigates the habitability of Mars and the limits of life. In preparation for the mission, experimental verification tests and scientific verification tests simulating different combinations of abiotic space and Mars-like conditions were performed to analyze the resistance of a range of model organisms. The simulated abiotic space- and Mars-stressors were extreme temperatures, vacuum, and Mars-like surface ultraviolet (UV) irradiation in different atmospheres. We present for the first time simulated space exposure data of mosses using plantlets of the bryophyte genus Grimmia, which is adapted to high altitudinal extreme abiotic conditions at the Swiss Alps. Our preflight tests showed that severe UVR200–400nm irradiation with the maximal dose of 5 and 6.8 × 10⁵ kJ·m⁻², respectively, was the only stressor with a negative impact on the vitality with a 37% (terrestrial atmosphere) or 36% reduction (space- and Mars-like atmospheres) in photosynthetic activity. With every exposure to UVR200–400nm 10⁵ kJ·m⁻², the vitality of the bryophytes dropped by 6%. No effect was found, however, by any other stressor. As the mosses were still vital after doses of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) expected during the EXPOSE-R2 mission on ISS, we show that this earliest extant lineage of land plants is highly resistant to extreme abiotic conditions.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/126586/
Document Type:Article
Title:Mosses in Low Earth Orbit: Implications for the Limits of Life and the Habitability of Mars
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iD
Huwe, BjörnBiodiversity Research/Systematic Botany, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany.UNSPECIFIED
Fiedler, AnnelieBiodiversity Research/Systematic Botany, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany.UNSPECIFIED
Moritz, SophieBiodiversity Research/Systematic Botany, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany.UNSPECIFIED
Rabbow, ElkeRadiation Biology Department, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Cologne, Germany; Elke.Rabbow (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-9301-2021
de Vera, Jean Pierre PaulAstrobiological Laboratories, Management and Infrastructure, Institute of Planetary Research, German Aerospace Center (DLR) Berlin, Germany; jean-pierre.devera (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-9530-5821
Joshi, JasminBiodiversity Research/Systematic Botany, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany and Institute for Landscape and Open Space, Hochschule fu¨r Technik HSR Rapperswil, Rapperswil, Switzerland.UNSPECIFIED
Date:11 February 2019
Journal or Publication Title:Astrobiology
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Page Range:pp. 221-232
Publisher:Mary Ann Liebert Inc.
Keywords:Extremotolerant, Bryophyte, Plant Performance, Grimmia sp., Irradiation, UV irradiation
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Research under Space Conditions
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R FR - Research under Space Conditions
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Vorhaben Strahlenbiologie (old), R - Vorhaben Planetary Evolution and Life (old)
Location: Berlin-Adlershof , Köln-Porz
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Aerospace Medicine > Radiation Biology
Institute of Planetary Research > Leitungsbereich PF
Deposited By: Kopp, Kerstin
Deposited On:15 Mar 2019 09:36
Last Modified:06 Sep 2019 15:23

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