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Extremophiles Survive Simulated Conditions on Europa
Astrobiologists have reproduced the conditions on the surface of Europa and found that some extremophiles survive
A couple of weeks of ago, we looked at a study indicating that in Earth ejecta is more likely to end up in the Jovian system than on Mars, at least in some scenarios. That raised the possibility that life from Earth could have made its way to places like the Jovian moon Europa, which astronomers believe has a large salt water ocean beneath its icy crust.
But this would only possible if terrestrial bugs can survive the intense vacuum and radiation in interplanetary space. Astrobiologists have studied the way many creatures survive in a space-like conditions. They’ve looked at bacteria, fungi, viruses and even biomolecules such as DNA. Some lucky bugs have even survived the journey to the Moon and back.
But one branch of life has been largely ignored in these tests–archae. That’s surprising since these bacteria-like bugs often flourish in extreme conditions on Earth.
Today, Ximena Abrevaya at the Universidad de Buenos Aires in Argentina and a few pals go some way to righting this wrong. These guys created a vacuum similar to that which exists on the surface of Europa. They then placed three organisms in it: the salt-loving archae Natrialba magadii and Haloferax volcanii and the radiation-resistant bacteria Deinococcus radiodurans.
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