Microbes in Space, A Review

By Keith Cowing
April 1, 2010

Rocco Mancinelli, PI of NAI’s SETI Institute Emeritus Team, and his colleagues have published a major review of space microbiology in the current issue of Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews. They discuss that, in general, microorganisms tend to thrive in the space flight environment, but that the mechanisms responsible for the observed behaviors aren’t well understood. The survival of microorganisms in space was investigated to tackle questions on the upper boundary of the biosphere and on the likelihood of interplanetary transport of microorganisms. While it is found that extraterrestrial solar UV radiation was the most deleterious factor of space, the data the team surveyed supports the likelihood of interplanetary transfer of microorganisms within meteorites, the so-called lithopanspermia hypothesis. [Source NAI newsletter]

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.