A complex organism would never be able to survive in space due to cosmic radiation, extreme temperatures, and the lack of barometric pressure and oxygen. But for very tiny organisms known as bacteria, the game changes. Scientists knew for a long time that bacteria is able to survive under harsh conditions, but this time the little organisms are taking it one step further.
A new study done by Japanese scientists reveals that bacteria can even survive in outer space, granting hope that microbes could spread between planets. The scientists were putting to the test the panspermia hypothesis that claims that the first amino-acids (elementary structures of life) were brought to Earth by asteroids and comets.
The International Space Station was the scientists’ playground
The Japanese scientists placed dried cell pellets of the bacteria known as Deinococcus spp. in aluminum plate wells. The next step was to attach these wells to exposure panels on the International Space Station’s exterior.
An official statement says:
“The results indicated the importance of the aggregated form of cells for surviving in harsh space environment. We also analyzed the samples exposed to space from 1 to 3 years. The experimental design enabled us to get and to extrapolate the survival time course and to predict the survival time of D. radiodurans. The results supported the concept of the massapanspermia if other requirements are met, such as ejection from the donor planet, transfer, and landing.”
The Japanese scientists discovered that the Deinococcus bacteria were able to form little balls and that the organisms in the center of the balls managed to survive even when the ones on the outside died. About 4 percent of the microbes from the pellets were able to survive by using the deceased microbes’ remains.
The new study was published in Frontiers in Microbiology.