2001 Annual Science Report
NASA Ames Research Center Reporting | JUL 2000 – JUN 2001
Life Beyond the Planet of Origin
Life Beyond the Planet of Origin (dm)
Progress during the first part of this project began September 1, 2000. Several team members have isolated halophiles from nature, and testing has begun to determine radiation resistance, as part opf a study to evaluate linkages between mechaisms of resistence to salt and to ionizing radiation. A new study has begun on the DNA damage resistance of Dunaliella salina, an extremely halophilic eukaryotic alga. We have explored new techniques to assess damage resistance, and ways to measure gene activation upon rehydration of yeast.
Previous experiments have shown that halophytic organisms isolated from salterns and intertidal environments can survive a two-week exposure to the space environment. Using the space simulation facility at the DLR in Cologne, Germany, we have completed a series of ground simulation experiments using a halophytic cyanobacterium from the genus Synechococcus spp. We have exposed this organism to vacuum desiccation and ultraviolet (UV) radiation. These experiments reveal that these organisms can survive exposure to UV radiation and vacuum desiccation for at least six months and probably longer.
PROJECT MEMBERS:Lynn Rothschild
Oliver de Peyer
RELATED OBJECTIVES:Objective 5.0
Describe the sequences of causes and effects associated with the development of Earth's early biosphere and the global environment.
Define how ecophysiological processes structure microbial communities, influence their adaptation and evolution, and affect their detection on other planets.
Identify the environmental limits for life by examining biological adaptations to extremes in environmental conditions.
Search for evidence of ancient climates, extinct life and potential habitats for extant life on Mars.
Understand the natural processes by which life can migrate from one world to another. Are we alone in the Universe?
Define climatological and geological effects upon the limits of habitable zones around the Sun and other stars to help define the frequency of habitable planets in the universe.
Determine the resilience of local and global ecosystems through their response to natural and human-induced disturbances.
Model the future habitability of Earth by examining the interactions between the biosphere and the chemistry and radiation balance of the atmosphere.
Understand the human-directed processes by which life can migrate from one world to another.
Refine planetary protection guidelines and develop protection technology for human and robotic missions.