HomeNewsDense clumps of microbes can survive for decades in the outer space

Dense clumps of microbes can survive for decades in the outer space

New research reveals that bacteria can last for decades in the vacuum of space. Results show a strong species of microorganisms that can survive in the very low density and pressure of space for a long period of time. However, first, it needs to form a thick, congealed clump. This new factor could reinforce the panspermia hypothesis. 

Panspermia hypothesis

The speculation proposes that microscopic life-forms surviving the space vacuum can confide in the debris discharged into space after the collision between planets and small objects in the Solar System. The panspermia hypothesis also proposes that asteroids seeded lifestyle on Earth.

An example of this type of microorganism is the deinococcus radiodurans. As an extremophile microbe, it has the ability to survive in rough situations, such as freezing cold temperatures, ionizing radiation, mild ultraviolet, and dehydration. According to an analyst, this bacteria is also strong enough to survive in outer space. 

Deinococcus radiodurans bacteria research 

The study shows how dried out samples of this bacteria were brought back to life. Examples of deinococcus were left on the Intercontinental Room Station for three years before researches conducted the experiment. However, during the experimentation process, the living bacteria turned into a thick clump. The study was led by Akihiko Yamagishi, a professor from Tokyo College and a team of scientists. 

Based on this research, we now know that a collection of microbes can survive long journeys through space. Therefore, Yamagishi and his team believe the results support the panspermia speculation, which says microbial lifestyle can select root on alien Earth. However, this is not the only idea that resulted from this experiment. Researchers are talking about a possible panspermia circumstance in regards to Earth and Mars. It may be that our planet and the red planet seeded the other. Of course, this remains just a theory until proven right. Who knows whether Mars was at any point in time habitable.

Deinococcus radiodurans bacteria pre-testing

Before conducting the outer space experiment, scientists tested the deinococcus radiodurans here on Earth. The study was done back in 2008 when Yamagishi and his colleagues used aircraft and balloons to find out microbes drifting in the high altitude ambiance. The research was documented, and results show that deinococcus radiodurans are present at altitudes reaching 7.5 miles (12 km) higher than our planet’s floor. 

It doesn’t come as a surprise since deinococcus radiodurans microbe is listed as the most radiation-resistant life-form on Guinness World Data. This was the starting point of outer space study. 

Deinococcus radiodurans bacteria testing

Scientists have exposed the samples to space for one-, two-, and a few-year period. Samples were left on an exposure experiment module outside the Worldwide Area Station. According to Yamagishi’s email, his team was able to create a survival curve. This allowed them to estimate the life of different microbes thicknesses. 

The study started back in 2015 al the way through the year 2018. The experiment location was Kibo, the Japanese Experimental Module on the ISS. At the end of the test, scientists discovered that clumps thicker than .5 millimeters survived the process, but only partially. Based on the results, the outer surfaces of the aggregates died. However, this created the perfect ambiance for the dehydrated microbes beneath. After dying, the microbes produce some kind of protective crust.

Researchers concluded that some deinococcus radiodurans samples could last around eight years. However, it is possible only if the batch’s thickness is more than 1 mm in diameter. In other words, the rate of survival increases as the batch is thicker. Some denser aggregates would have the potential o survive from 15 to 45 many years.

Deinococcus radiodurans resistance

How is it possible for deinococcus radiodurans to resist in such a harsh environment? According to Yamagishi’s explanation, “they have a number of copies of genomes and a heightened capacity to fix harm completed to DNA.” That means once the microbe is rehydrated, it would start fixing the injuries created by its DNA. 

So far, this study shows the best survival estimation of a bacteria, in this case, an extremophile. It merely demonstrates how if scientists carefully select the right bacteria and shield it correctly, they can prolong its life in the vacuum space. The shield can take more forms, such as aggregates or even burial within a rock.

Massapanspermia hypothesis

Yamagishi came out with a new expression for this hypothesis; he calls it massapanspermia. The word “massa” stands for the term mass or aggregates. Therefore, massapanspermia speculation proposes that “the microbial aggregates may possibly be transferred between planets.” So far, the study shows impressive results; however, scientists are not even close to thoroughly understand the new process. In theory, microbes should be able to survive a trip to Mars.  

A journey to Mars

“The regular time expected for objects to transfer among Mars and Earth is all over tens of million many years,” explained Yamagishi. “However, in the shortest orbit it usually takes only months or several years, even though the frequency is really minimal.”

Although microbes could last that long, the probability of a journey to Mars is relatively small. So far, we know extremophile microbes can survive for about 45 decades; however, enduring millions of many years is a different story. However, other factors need to be taken into account. 

Can a bacteria survive in a jarring journey into room? What about the heated entry via the atmosphere of an alien planet? Will the life of a microbe be affected in contact with the alien floor? Although panspermia seems like a great strategy, at the moment, we don’t have enough information to materialize for it actually to perform.



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