Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Earth microbes may contaminate the search for life on Mars

Date:
April 28, 2010
Source:
American Society for Microbiology
Summary:
Bacteria common to spacecraft may be able to survive the harsh environs of Mars long enough to inadvertently contaminate Mars with terrestrial life, according to new research.

Mars viewed by the Hubble Space Telescope.
Credit: Jim Bell (Cornell) et al., Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI/NASA)

Bacteria common to spacecraft may be able to survive the harsh environs of Mars long enough to inadvertently contaminate Mars with terrestrial life, according to research published in the April 2010 issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

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 sterilization designed to prevent the contamination of the Martian surface.

Despite sterilization efforts made to reduce the bioload on spacecraft, recent studies have shown 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 replicated Mars-like conditions by inducing desiccation, hypobaria, low temperatures, and UV irradiation. During the week-long study they found that Escherichia 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.

"If long-term microbial survival is possible on Mars, then past and future explorations of Mars may provide the microbial inoculum for seeding Mars with terrestrial life," say the researchers. "Thus, a diversity of microbial species should be studied to characterize their potential for long term survival on Mars."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Microbiology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. B. J. Berry, D. G. Jenkins, A. C. Schuerger. Effects of Simulated Mars Conditions on the Survival and Growth of Escherichia coli and Serratia liquefaciens. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2010; 76 (8): 2377 DOI: 10.1128/AEM.02147-09

Cite This Page:

American Society for Microbiology. "Earth microbes may contaminate the search for life on Mars." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100427111252.htm>.
American Society for Microbiology. (2010, April 28). Earth microbes may contaminate the search for life on Mars. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100427111252.htm
American Society for Microbiology. "Earth microbes may contaminate the search for life on Mars." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100427111252.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station

Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) On it's second attempt this week, The Space X company launched Friday from Cape Canaveral to ferry supplies to the International Space Station. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Unmanned Falcon 9 Rocket Blasts Off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida

Unmanned Falcon 9 Rocket Blasts Off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 18, 2014) The rocket, built and operated by Space Exploration Technologies, carries a Dragon cargo ship loaded with supplies and equipment destined for the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth's Near-Twin Found Orbiting Red Dwarf

Earth's Near-Twin Found Orbiting Red Dwarf

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The newly-discovered planet is roughly the size of Earth and could have liquid water on its surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Baby Moon 'Peggy' Spotted In Saturn's Rings

New Baby Moon 'Peggy' Spotted In Saturn's Rings

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A bump in the rings could be a half-mile-wide miniature moon. It was found by accident in Cassini probe images. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins