Questions tagged [astrobiology]

Questions regarding the study of life outside of Earth.

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2
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1answer
79 views

Can mushroom spores survive the vacuum and radiation of space?

From this source, it states that: Living spores have been found and collected in every level of earth’s atmosphere. Mushroom spores are electron-dense and can survive in the vacuum of space. ...
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66 views

Funding for small astrobiology fieldwork project

I am a postdoctoral scholar who plans to conduct a small project at the MDRS, a Mars simulation volunteer project. The project will be to conduct DNA sequencing of soil samples using a handheld nano ...
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1answer
107 views

Does exploration of Venus' atmosphere now require any planetary protection protocols?

This answer quotes Marc Rayman's August 21, 2018 Dawn Journal entry: Not all solar system bodies need such protection. The Moon, Mercury and Venus, for example, have not been of interest for ...
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1answer
109 views

Has the possibility of the return of organisms along with mined asteroid products to Earth been considered or discussed [closed]

Is it possible that mining on asteroids could bring life back to Earth such as bacteria?
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599 views

Does SpaceX plan to enhance/change the genome of space colonists to speed up the adaptation process to the living conditions on Mars? [closed]

My understanding of biology is that all living organisms adapt to the environment around them. I would even say the environment shapes the very essence of an organism. Gravity alone is a huge factor ...
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3answers
2k views

Is it ethical for Chang'e-4 to bring an entire ecosystem to the moon? [closed]

As far as I know, it isn't ethical to contaminate outer space with life from Earth, because then we will never be sure if life can actually grow there. However, I just read reports that the latest ...
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2answers
134 views

Could nanobots travel through space?

I couldn't find a better place to ask this, but I figured this exchange would know about the problems associated with traveling through space. My question is if nanobots could spread through the ...
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1answer
458 views

What is the origin of Black knight satellite? [closed]

Is it true that an extraterrestrial satellite orbits earth in retrograde? If the Black knight exists, can we presume that it is placed there by aliens who are technologically more advanced than ...
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1answer
119 views

Could it be worthwhile to bring a small and simple greenhouse with biofilms along with one of the next missions to Mars?

Planetary protection rules could be a reason not to bring biofilms to Mars, but because several landers and satellites that crashed or landed on Mars were probably not sterilized these rules were ...
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70 views

Why the big difference between NASA and ESA/Roscosmos in evaluating the Oxia Planum landing site?

In november 2018 ESA announced that the Oxia Planum region is favoured for the ExoMars surface mission. The figure above from this answer about the 21 potential landing sites for the Mars 2020 ...
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1answer
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Has the HP$^3$ on the Insight lander actually a probe to detect water and ice in the subsurface of Mars?

The Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP$^3$) is a science instrument onboard the Insight lander that features a self-penetrating probe to determine how heat flows inside Mars. Nicknamed "the ...
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2answers
119 views

Why are there no methane detectors with “the mole” of the Insight lander?

A possible geophysical source of methane on Mars could be ancient methane trapped in clathrate hydrates in the subsurface that may be released occasionally. In a not secured (!) article of ESA about ...
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Is microgravity “known to” increase bacteria's tendency to acquire foreign genetic material and become metal & antibiotic-resistant?

The RT article Mutant superbugs menace future space station expeditions – NASA ends with: Microgravity is known to increase a bacterium's tendency to acquire foreign genetic material and to become ...
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If I wanted to try to terraform Mars, who would have the authority to stop me?

Let’s say hypothetically I could fund a rocket ship and pack it with lots of biomaterial. Biomaterial that would hopefully survive the impact, reproduce and potentially alter the atmosphere of Mars. ...
2
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1answer
107 views

NASA's Curiosity Rover - Carbon Isotope Ratio of Methane?

The following is taken from Sinha & Rral , 2015: "NASA's Curiosity rover has the capability to search for organic compounds and to identify the chemical and isotopic composition of the Martian ...
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What would make Mars a better candidate for life to originate on? [closed]

The Allan Hills meteorite, found in Antarctica in 1984, lead to speculation that bacteria from Mars may have traveled from Mars to Earth between 17 million and 13 000 years ago - blasted from Mars 17 ...
2
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1answer
103 views

What were the 21 potential landing sites for the Mars 2020 mission?

In August 2015 more than 150 scientists attended a conference to evaluate 21 potential landing sites for NASA's next rover, a mission called Mars 2020. Out of those proposed landing sites the Mars ...
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3answers
288 views

Would a circular saw on one arm and a trowel on another on the Mars 2020 rover add scientific value? [closed]

Edit: I changed the question from one arm with a shovel to two arms, with one with a circular saw and the other with a trowel, some time after the first answer of @Hobbes. I did this because in his ...
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2answers
529 views

Which potential landing sites were identified at the MSL Landing Site workshops?

In the Wikipedia article Timeline of Mars Science Laboratory it is mentioned that at the first MSL Landing Site workshop, 33 potential landing sites were identified, and that by the second workshop in ...
12
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1answer
298 views

Fish in space: what were the results?

I've been interested in the Japanese experiment on the ISS involving raising fish in space, but in all my reading the results seem a bit ambiguous/conflicting (depending on source). What are the ...
7
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1answer
281 views

Are we alone after all? Understanding the recent re-evaluation of the Drake Equation

The Quartz.com article We may have answered the Fermi Paradox: We are alone in the universe says: Researchers of Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute have another answer. It’s likely ...
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1answer
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Why is the northeastern region of Syrtis Major Planum a selected landing site for the Mars 2020 mission?

Image below: One of the 3 selected landing sites, on the left side of Jezero crater, which is also selected ! A workshop for the Mars 2020 Rover mission was held in February 2017 that selected 3 ...
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1answer
184 views

Why is Enceladus the “most interesting place for astrobiology” in the Solar System other than Earth?

In season 1 episode 1 of Space's Deepest Secrets (IMDB), Dr. Chris McKay, a planetary scientist for NASA, says around 1h:40m into the show, "This is the single most important and interesting place for ...
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986 views

Why not bring life to the atmosphere of Venus along with the next exploring mission?

Why not bring cyanobacteria and fertilizer to the atmosphere of Venus to improve conditions for life there by producing oxygen ? Planetary protection could be a reason. According to Wikipedia: ...
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1answer
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What type of rock or soil on Mars will give Nostoc Commune cyanobacteria the best chance to survive there?

Photo taken by YAMAMAYA Cyanobacteria are a group of photosynthetic bacteria, who use the energy of light to synthesize organic compounds from carbon dioxide, and producing oxygen this way. Nostoc ...
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Are Peace Vallis and it's alluvial fan on Mars classified as special regions or not?

According to the answer for this question, that was not accepted, alluvial fans might have water and thus a IVc category mission would be required to visit such an area. Curiosity meets only the IVa ...
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1answer
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What potential characteristics can be reasonably discussed about a hypothetical Martian microbial ecosystem in lava tubes? [closed]

Based on their hypothetical origin in lava tubes, what characteristics of hypothetical Martian lava tube microbes can we reasonably extrapolate? Could we theorize how different microbe species might ...
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1answer
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Could metal sulfates stay in the sulfuric acid layer of Venus?

For cyanobacteria metal ions like K+, Mg+ and other essential nutrients like phosphorus are vital for growing and to expand. So they could only thrive in the clouds of Venus if at least metal ions ...
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1answer
215 views

Why not simulate certain regions of the atmosphere of Venus?

Many people would like to know if any form of life could survive anywhere in the atmosphere of Venus. Researchers have simulated conditions on Mars and found that after a month some cyanobacteria ...
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1answer
436 views

How does hypergravity affect the human body?

What would happen to humans if we set foot on Kepler-442b, where the surface gravity is predicted to be about 30% percent stronger than that of earth? If humans colonized the planet, would it then ...
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681 views

Could there be liquid hydrogen oceans on the surfaces of worlds (including frozen gas giants) in the distant Kuiper belt or Oort cloud?

This is something I'm wondering for a science book I'm writing (not science fiction) where I cover the various forms of life that could exist especially in our solar system - such as life on Mars of ...
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Why is the surface of Mars oxidized?

Before 2.5 to 2Gya, Earth's surface was a chemically reducing environment (evidence includes reduced forms of iron, sulfur, and uranium in rocks before that time). It is believed to have become ...
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2answers
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Is the amount of damage to humans due to x Sievert a function of exposure time?

After looking into the experienced radiation for certain space journeys, I was wondering wether it was correct to state that the amount of biological damage is a function of the exposure time for a ...
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1answer
332 views

Who gets to represent Earth in case of an Alien meeting? [closed]

Let's assume the aliens that come to visit our planet are friendly and somewhat like humans. Who will be the one to tell them about our habits and technology? Very curious if there are any laws that ...
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3answers
443 views

Could a terrestrial planet with a hydrogen atmosphere be habitable?

Many exoplanets, even small ones, have densities so low that it indicates that they have hydrogen atmospheres. Is a hydrogen gas atmosphere of a terrestrial planet somehow detrimental to biology as we ...
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2answers
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Why do we worry about contaminating some solar bodies but not others?

On 15th September 2017, the Cassini probe will be destroyed by crashing it into Saturn. This will be done in order to eliminate the unlikely risk of it crashing into and forward contaminating one of ...
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3answers
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Could a spacecraft be made out of wood?

Could a spacecraft use organic materials, like wood or bone or shell or other tissues, as an interface to the vacuum and radiation of space? Would wood outgas and crack up in space? I wonder if life ...
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1answer
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Melanized fungi on the ISS - are they 'enjoying' the elevated radiation levels there?

The end of this excellent answer lead me to Wikipedia which linked to The blacker the better… especially in Chernobyl and Chernobyl Fungus Feeds On Radiation. One passage in 'blacker the better' ...
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1answer
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Iron Oxidation Mechanism on Mars

My question relates more to the possibilities of life on Mars than to mining mineral deposits. QUESTION: Is it possible to have oxidized iron in the quantities that we see on Mars with only available ...
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6answers
467 views

Can a launch of a rocket or ship from Earth go so badly that it damages the Solar System?

Is it possible for a launch of a space object originating from Earth to go so badly that it would cause permanent damage to the Solar System or even destroy it? Example: a spaceship going off ...
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3answers
645 views

Life on other planets not based on water [duplicate]

I keep reading that scientists are looking for life on other planets. However almost always their premise to determine the same is based on life on Earth, i.e. need for water, air, etc. Why do we ...
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1answer
102 views

What exoplanet atmospheres might support life beside our nitrogen and oxygen atmosphere? [closed]

What exoplanet atmospheres might support life beside our nitrogen and oxygen atmosphere? Related question: Could an exoplanet atmosphere be very similar to our own, but contain some component toxic ...
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3answers
174 views

Why do we search for extra-terrestrial water?

When searching for signs of extra-terrestrial life, the key primary challenge as of now seems to be searching for signs of water on other planets. Presumably, this is because on Earth, water is ...
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1answer
141 views

What is the potential limit extraterrestrial life can survive and under what factors?

A lot of material about extraterrestrial life seems to suggest that life essentially cannot survive in environments with more radiation beyond what's on Earth. For example, when red dwarfs planets are ...
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2answers
1k views

How does the presence of water on a planet indicate a likelihood of life?

As title says. We find water on a planet, and we assume that it's more likely life is there. How/why is this the case? Isn't it possible some life could survive without water? Even if the answer is '...
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1answer
496 views

Which earth-based lifeforms can survive the vacuum of space?

The Tardigrade (or Water Bear) is a remarkable creature: It is able to survive in all sorts of extreme environments (taken from wikipedia): temperatures from just above absolute zero to well above ...
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4answers
7k views

Why do deep space probes have to be sterilized?

Correct me if I'm wrong but a probe to Mars will take months, during which time it's exposed to a vacuum and irradiated by the sun. It sounds to me like this would kill any micro-organisms on the ...
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1answer
121 views

Is chirality random, or is a specific chirality favoured? [closed]

Consider the hypothetical case that we encounter alien life and it is based on the same chemical foundation as terrestrial life (amino acids, nucleic acids, etc.). Would it be reasonable to expect the ...
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3answers
431 views

What are the valid arguments for forward contamination, given the uniqueness of proteins?

What is the scientific foundation for the hypothesis that human space exploration accidentally could spread Earth life to e.g. Mars and cause contamination which is indistinguishable from any ...
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2answers
636 views

What existing life on Earth is best suited for the Martian environment?

What existing life on Earth is best suited for the Martian environment? By best suited, I mean it could theoretically be placed on Mars and easily adapt or thrive within the existing environment the ...