Picture this: microscopic life forms, like bacteria, carried through space, and brought on another planet. How could be possible?
Such a thing is actually a theory dubbed “panspermia.” It supports the likelihood that microbes might travel between planets and spread life in the Universe.
The theory also implies that bacteria would survive the trip on outer space because it would also be immune to space vacuum, space radiations, and even temperature fluctuations. But, Dr. Yamagishi knows better because he and his team examined the presence of microbes in the atmosphere and published a paper. Here is what you need to know.
The Resistance of Bacteria: Space Can’t Hold it Down
In 2018, Dr. Akihiko Yamagishi, a Professor of Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Sciences, led a team of researchers and examined the microbes in the atmosphere. They utilized scientific balloons and aircraft to develop their study. What they found is truly intriguing.
The team discovered Deinococcal bacteria floating 12km above our planet. Deinococcus is known to produce immense colonies (about one millimeter) and be resistant to UV radiation. Could the bacteria resist enough in space to support the possibility of panspermia?
Dr. Yamagishi tested the survival of the resistance of Deinococcus in space. His findings indicate that thick aggregates can offer enough protection for bacteria’s resistance and survival during many years in the extreme space environment.
“The results suggest that radioresistant Deinococcus could survive during the travel from Earth to Mars and vice versa, which is several months or years in the shortest orbit,” explained Dr. Yamagishi.
This study offers, to date, the greatest estimate of bacterial survival in space. It’s also the first long-term (2 years) space research raising the likelihood that bacteria could survive in space as aggregates, introducing the new concept of “massapanspermia.” Researchers are now one step closer to demonstrate panspermia possible.
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