Astronomers are eager to land on Mars in the next several years, but could they survive such a journey? A new discovery grants some hope. Although the Red Planet is considered one of the most habitable cosmic objects from the Solar System, scientists always believed that it would still be pretty difficult for organisms from Earth to survive on our neighboring planet.
NASA and the German Aerospace Center bring hope that microorganisms from Earth could be able to survive for a limited time on Mars, as Engadget.com reveals.
Fungal and bacterial organisms could survive in the stratosphere
The MARBOx (Microbes in Atmosphere for Radiation, Survival, and Biological Outcomes Experiment) experiment that the scientists conducted in 2019 implied sending fungal and bacteria to the stratosphere, the layer of Earth’s atmosphere that has similar conditions to those of Mars. Therefore, if any type of organism would survive on the stratosphere, it means that it should also be able to survive on the Red Planet.
Scientists described in a new study how spores of black mold were able to survive the trip. Although the microorganism survived on the Red Planet’s surface for a limited time, scientists even concluded that it could be revived after returning home.
Katharina Siems from the German Aerospace Center declared:
With crewed long-term missions to Mars, we need to know how human-associated microorganisms would survive on the Red Planet, as some may pose a health risk to astronauts. In addition, some microbes could be invaluable for space exploration. They could help us produce food and material supplies independently from Earth, which will be crucial when far away from home.
The scientists put fungal spores of Salinisphaera shabanensis and Aspergillus niger, Staphylococcus capitis subsp. capitis and Buttiauxella sp. MASE-IM-9 bacterial cells in the MARBOx container.
The new study was published in Frontiers of Microbiology.