Questions tagged [life]

Questions regarding living organisms, searches for life, or human life in space.

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39
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3answers
13k views

Why did the Chinese send flies and plants to the far side of the moon?

The Chinese space craft that just landed on the moon had a tube with a biosphere in with flies and plants. What are they expecting to learn? Didn't we already experiment that on the ISS? Source ...
32
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3answers
3k views

Is it possible to get pregnant through natural means in space?

The Russians did some early testing with rats (Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, By Mary Roach pg 245) and natural means did not result in pregnancy. Later testing shipped ...
30
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1answer
5k views

How many astronauts have reported an alien encounter of some kind?

This question will be controversial, so I want to start out by saying that I am not advocating any sort of conspiracy. I'm merely acknolwedging the fact that there are numerous claims that some ...
27
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2answers
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Is there any demonstrated or even proposed technology that can sterilize a spacecraft with 100% certainty and yet leave it electronically functional?

In this answer to Why are there no robotic missions on Europa or Enceladus I wrote: Missions going through the ice and into the ocean are currently hypothetical and problematic. You need a lot of ...
26
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2answers
835 views

How to explore subsurface oceans (cheaply)?

There are dozens of speculative proposals to explore Europa, Enceladus, and possibly other Solar System bodies (including Sedna and other Trans-Neptunians!) that may be endowed with liquid water under ...
24
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1answer
4k views

Why is there a pregnancy test kit on the ISS?

A comment by Organic Marble on the question Is it possible to get pregnant through natural means in space? includes a link to PREGNANCY TEST (ISS MED/3A - ALL/FIN) which seems to indicate there is a ...
21
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1answer
3k views

Are there free insects in the ISS?

Are there free insects, living and breeding in the ISS, not part of an experiment? I am not asking about an occasional escaped single fruit fly, Nor am I asking about insects contained in a enclosure ...
20
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4answers
1k views

Could any life from Earth survive in Enceladus' oceans?

Enceladus, the sixth-largest moon of Saturn, is probably unique in being the only body in our solar system besides Earth (and possibly Europa) to have significant amounts of liquid water. Most of this ...
19
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1answer
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Why is Curiosity not heading for Peace Vallis?

For over 5 years Curiosity has been successfully searching for many signs that water was once present at Gale crater. Its geology is notable for containing both clays and sulfate minerals that may ...
19
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1answer
1k views

Did Streptococcus mitis survive 950 days in the lunar environment?

The "Apollo 50th" account on Twitter tweets news and events day-to-day as they happened 50 years ago. Yesterday, the following information has been tweeted: The microorganism Streptococcus mitis ...
18
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1answer
4k views

How did humans grow plants on the Moon despite the harsh conditions?

The Chang'e 4 lander contains seeds to grow plants on the Moon. The Moon has non-sustainable life conditions. Among those are the lack of water, atmosphere, the varying extreme temperatures, the low ...
18
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Why haven't we sent seeds of life to other planets yet?

We could have sent seeds of life (say a few ounces of microbes) along with every planetary exploration craft. Why we haven't done that so far?
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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 ...
16
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2answers
2k views

Can plants grow in microgravity?

If a manned mission to another far-off planet were to take place, the crew probably would need something more sustainable than tubes for a food resource - plants would probably be the best option. ...
16
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2answers
1k views

How would finding life on Mars affect the timeline to send people?

There are a lot of questions here about looking for life on Mars, potentially finding life on Mars, how to deal with life on Mars as far as contamination one way or the other, even whether or not ...
15
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4answers
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Why aren't there any robotic missions on Europa or Enceladus?

As per Space.com's Methane in plume of Saturn's moon Enceladus could be sign of alien life, studies suggest that Enceladus and Europa are the two most promising solar-system bodies on or in which to ...
15
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2answers
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Can humans live in something like the ISS around gas giants?

Beside solar winds and cosmic rays, would they need some form of shielding from whatever deadly comes from these planets ? And about this potentially deadly stuff coming from the planets, what would ...
15
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1answer
3k views

Have water bears ever been studied on the ISS or in Space?

I'm sure a lot of people are familiar with the ever resilient tardigrades. Have we ever done studies to see how they would fair in a space environment or any other neat studies, perhaps aboard the ISS?...
15
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2answers
710 views

What are the constraints for a successful robotic mission to Europa?

Of all the destinations within our solar system, the one that intrigues me the most is Europa. Every location has its own merits and beauty, but I'm most optimistic about finding life on Europa. It's ...
14
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5answers
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What level of oxygen in a planetary atmosphere would be indicative of life?

Astronomical spectroscopy can be used to determine the chemical composition of far away bodies. In the related question Can we detect atmosphere on exoplanets? we learned that even now we are studying ...
14
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1answer
666 views

What non-plant, non-bacteria organisms have been studied for their use in colonization?

We hear a lot about the usefulness of plants and bacteria in human colonization efforts in space, whether interstellar or within our solar system. Other organisms, on the other hand, seem to receive ...
14
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4answers
275 views

What properties are used to quantify the odds of a star harboring earth-like life?

Say you start with a list of stars. What properties do we believe to be critical in the present existence or future formation of earth-like life in those star systems? How can one reasonably pare down ...
13
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1answer
864 views

Has any country stated its official position on how it would respond to a discovery of intelligent extra terrestrial life?

There are currently many programs that are attempting to find intelligent extraterrestrial life. Putting aside the fact that I believe that the chances of this are slim to none, I'm interested in ...
13
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1answer
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How certain are we that we have not accidentally sent life to other planets/moons?

Recently phosphine was discovered on Venus, and that led to some speculation that life exists on Venus because phosphine is a known biosignature on Earth. Considering that we've sent probes to Venus ...
13
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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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2answers
766 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 ...
12
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4answers
664 views

Are we searching for life "as we don't know it"?

The phrase "Life as we know it" is often spoken with a knowing wink, and implies the speaker is in on the big secret. Life on Earth is carbon based and every form of life we know of is on Earth. Which ...
12
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1answer
1k views

What kind of biological research does the ISS do?

As per this link, the International Space Station (ISS) continues to provide research in such fields as biology. What kind of biological research is being done on the ISS, considering there is no life ...
12
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1answer
533 views

Do astronauts take any pills to battle bone density loss?

Is the effect of micro-gravity on bone structure similar to osteoporosis? If so, do they often take simple pills like calcium or more advance medicine such as ones listed here? Lastly, are they ...
12
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3answers
633 views

Phosphine, yes -- but where are the organic compounds on Venus?

There has been much speculation in recent news about the finding of phosphine on Venus, and what may be producing it. At the same time, when we look for clues of life elsewhere in the Solar System, we ...
11
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1answer
459 views

Have there been experiments in space to determine how plants grow without any gravitational or light cues for direction?

I just read a question on the gardening stack site about why plants grow up, to which one of the answers has mentioned experiments on the ISS, and which stated: experiments on the ISS have shown ...
11
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1answer
2k views

Largest inhabitable volume in space

When you look at space ships, capsules and stations, one thing that is lacking in space is… space. As in: pressurized volume a human can freely move in. Most are tiny tin cans. So I was wondering, ...
11
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3answers
328 views

Is the rigorous disinfection process prior to launch necessary?

Before a rover or other exploration vehicle is launched, it undergoes rigorous cleaning and disinfection, such as a bath in UV rays to kill off bacteria. The official reasoning on this seems to be ...
11
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1answer
267 views

Were any mammals born in space (or are there any confirmed planned missions to breed them)?

This answer claims rats had been born in space, but link with confirmation is broken. Some pregnant rats were in space, but those didn't give birth in space. This question has good answers regarding ...
10
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3answers
1k views

Agriculture on an exoplanet

If we find a hypothetical Earth-like planet A with a rocky terrain that we could colonize, how would we go about planting the first plants, knowing that there is a deficient of nutrients and the ...
10
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4answers
3k views

What animals, if any, have reproduced in space?

Have any living animals successfully reproduced entirely in space? If none have, what animals have had the most complete reproductive cycles in space?
10
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1answer
211 views

Does NASA have a plan to search for the life in Europa?

Europa is one of the most interesting moons in our solar system. It seems possible that some kind of living beings are able to live beneath its frozen surface. Question. Does NASA (or any other ...
10
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1answer
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How many astronauts are left handed?

One kind of 'popular science' fun facts that is very popular is to show how many of the individuals belonging to a notable group of people that are left handed, often showing a large disproportionally ...
9
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1answer
2k views

Why did we take dinosaur bones into space?

For the past few days, since I found out about this, I've been trying to figure out what was the reasoning behind taking dinosaur bones into space. Everywhere I looked I couldn't find any explanation ...
9
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0answers
996 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 ...
8
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4answers
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Is 'Mars One' a one-way mission for fear of infecting Earth with unknown pathogens?

Will the Mars One mission team be testing samples to know for sure that there are no deadly viruses on Mars? If there are no viruses, will this pave the way for Mars travel? What would be the ...
8
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2answers
1k views

What is meant by 'Organics' when discussing space exploration?

A recent news article Comet landing: Organic molecules detected by Philae (BBC 18 November 2014) talks about 'Organic molecules' being found on a comet. The question here Any regolith lunar samples ...
8
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1answer
791 views

Will my hair raise if I land on the dark side of the moon?

The dark side of the Moon (i.e., the side not currently illuminated by the Sun) has high static potential. But I have heard that hairs can raise if humans are exposed to such situation. But if I ...
8
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1answer
576 views

Can centrifugal force actually overcome the health problems of microgravity?

Microgravity has a negative health effect which exercises cannot completely remedy. Rotation of spacecraft and the resulting centrifugal force have been suggested as a source of pseudo-gravity. But ...
8
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1answer
591 views

Can (human) gas propel someone in a contained space station?

I am NOT trying to be lewd, but I had a student ask this. Yes, she may have been tongue-in-cheek, but I promised to answer her. And yes, I am trying to keep this as practical as possible. If and ...
8
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1answer
417 views

Why are Martian rovers still looking for water?

It seems obvious that water has been on Mars at some point, be it long ago or recent. My question, then, is this: Why are we still looking for evidence of water on Mars? Shouldn't we be focusing on ...
8
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1answer
660 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 ...
8
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1answer
288 views

If there was DNA in the "organics" of a comet could we tell?

A recent news article says that the lander Philae on comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko 67P, has discovered a rich array of organics and it quotes one leading scientist as saying it is a a frozen ...
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2answers
1k views

DNA or even life in vacuum of space

Does anyone know of any missions planned or in progress that are searching in the very vacuum of space for the complex organic molecules that are key indicators of life (such as DNA, RNA, etc.), or ...
7
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3answers
819 views

Can a flock of birds crash a rocket?

Has there ever been a situation when birds caused damage to a rocket? At what speed would birds be a problem? Could a rocket launch off water horizontally in stages?