Microbes from Earth likely to contaminate MarsApril 28th, 2010 - 5:54 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, April 28 (IANS) Bacteria common to spacecraft sent from the Earth may be able to survive the harsh environs of Mars, long enough to contaminate it with terrestrial life, research says.
The search for life on Mars remains a stated goal of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program and Astrobiology Institutes.
To preserve the pristine environments, the bioloads on spacecraft headed to Mars are subject to sterilisation, designed to prevent the contamination of the Martian surface.
Despite these efforts, recent studies show that diverse microbial communities remain at the time of launch.
The sterile nature of spacecraft assembly facilities ensures that only the most resilient species survive, including acinetobacter, bacillus, escherichia, staphylococcus and streptococcus.
Researchers from the University of Central Florida (UCF) replicated Mars-like conditions by inducing desiccation, low temperatures, and UV irradiation.
During the week-long study they found that E. coli, a potential spacecraft contaminant, may likely survive but not grow on the surface of Mars if it were shielded from UV irradiation by thin layers of dust or UV-protected niches in spacecraft, a UCF release says.
“If long-term microbial survival is possible on Mars, past and future explorations of Mars may provide the microbial inoculum for seeding Mars with terrestrial life,” the researchers say.
“Thus, a diversity of microbial species should be studied to characterise their potential for long-term survival on Mars,” they add.
The findings were published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, published by the American Society for Microbiology.
- Earth bacteria may contaminate Martian environs - Apr 28, 2010
- World's toughest bacterium discovered - Sep 06, 2010
- Radiation-resisting hardy bugs may survive a million years on Mars - Nov 24, 2010
- A search for unusual alien life on Earth and life that can survive on Mars - Apr 22, 2009
- Copper effective against new E. coli strains - Jun 03, 2011
- Exoplanet neighbour smaller than Earth discovered - Jul 19, 2012
- NASA's Odyssey spacecraft sets exploration record on Mars - Dec 16, 2010
- How variations in Sun's energy contribute to climate change - Jan 15, 2011
- Viking discovered organics on Mars: Study - Jan 05, 2011
- NASA mulling week-long Mars mission simulation for ISS - Apr 22, 2011
- NASA spacecraft becomes first to enter Mercury orbit - Mar 18, 2011
- NASA's Mars rover begins research in space - Dec 14, 2011
- US rover to scout for Mars' habitability - Nov 27, 2011
- Reshaping gut microbiome could pave way for bowel disease treatments - Aug 24, 2010
- Honeysuckle coating protects people from UV rays - Jun 02, 2011
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,