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66

Right now, almost 100% of existing research on growth in gravity fields is basically at 0g (ISS/Mir/Skylab/whatever) or 1g. There are a lot of questions of what happens at 1/6g or 2/3g? No good experiments to demonstrate. Thus the Chinese lander is testing 1/6th g. SpaceX is likely to brute force test 38% g when they get to Mars. It is entirely possible ...


40

While it's still cool, it's not as tricky as it may sound at first: The seeds, including water, are stored in a sealed, heated and shielded container. The container also includes fruit flies and yeast. So the plants are not grown in the lunar soil (which would be the interesting and challenging next step) but in a portable, sealed ecosystem. (See for ...


28

Planetary protection is the principle that on the contrary to your proposal, we should take steps to avoid any contamination of planetary bodies with life from Earth. There are various cited reasons for this, one of the most important being that since we don't yet know whether extraterrestrial life exists on these planets, if we accidentally or ...


26

The test kit is there in case a female crewmember suspects that she might be pregnant. Your second question will never be answered because of US medical privacy laws. For the 3rd question, I have not found a documented answer, but I suspect a medical evacuation would be in order, due to the unknown developmental effects on the unborn child. This would ...


26

The capsule and its seeds are stored on the Chang'e 4 lander. It protects the biosphere from the positive +/-200C degree temperature swings. They are basically experimenting to see how life evolves and survives in near zero gravity. Unlike the ISS where they essentially tested the same concept just in Zero Gravity. Learning this will better prepare humanity ...


23

This is a pretty broad questions, as it would depend on which gas giant you have in mind. Excluding Uranus and Neptune as ice giants, this leaves us with Jupiter and Saturn in our own Solar system, and they're still hard to directly compare in terms of how hazardous environment they'd represent to an orbiting space station. But they have one deadly thing in ...


22

I would argue that no specific level of molecular or atomic oxygen in atmosphere is indicative of carbon-based life (i.e. life as we know it on Earth). A planet could have oxygen rich atmosphere which could be due to naturally occurring thermo-chemical reactions (e.g. Sabatier/Bosch reaction), loss of hydrogen in water vapor through atmospheric escape and ...


22

It is actually too likely to find water there. There are 3 categories of Planetary Protection missions for a mission to Mars, IVa, IVb, and IVc. Curiosity meets the IVa criteria, a mission not intended to seek life on Mars. A IVb mission looks for life, and a IVc enters a special region which is: A special region is a region classified by COSPAR where ...


21

Apparently on August 21, 2011, NASA put together a report titled "Would Contact with Extraterrestrials Benefit or Harm Humanity? A Scenario Analysis." that answers just that. Also found on Amazon for 1.99. This doesn't cover how a country would respond but how NASA would handle several scenarios to the idea. I'm guessing since NASA is heavily funded by the ...


21

This is a community wiki. Please contribute any additional information you find. The following list is likely incomplete, so the total number of astronauts that follows is subject to change. There are five astronauts that have reported an encounter of the kind detailed in the question. In alphabetical order (by last name, then first name) they are: Frank ...


21

No. Look at the numbers: 10000 kg. => Your rocket 73420000000000000000000 kg. => The moon 5972200000000000000000000 kg. => The earth 1989000000000000000000000000000 kg. => The sun To put this to scale, the rocket has a similar mass towards the moon as that of one human cell towards a human. You can ...


20

Quarantine was always a standard procedure for the astronauts which landed on the Moon. The Apollo astronauts were kept in quarantine just in case they contracted something on the Moon's surface. This turned out to be unnecessary, but better safe than sorry. But how likely is it that there are deadly pathogens on another planet? I would say it is pretty ...


18

Jared Olson, robotics instructor and flight controller at Johnson Space Center, claims not, and as an entomologist I think that's actually plausible. It sounds like there are extensive quarantine and disinsection procedures for materials launched to the ISS, and while I imagine a handful of small insects are occasionally carried inside pressurised parts of ...


16

So far the studies that have been performed in orbit have shown that plants grow perfectly normal (shoots up, roots down--so to speak) in microgravity. They also produce healthy offspring which can grow new plants in orbit. Experiments have been performed on Arabidopsis and other Brassicaceae. Aboard the ISS a special “plant growth chamber” called Advanced ...


16

Seeds include a plant embryo with a root and a shoot already developed. When the seed germinates, the root and the shoot each elongate through tissue growth at the tip (meristem). Without environmental cues, the root and shoot will each continue to grow in the same general direction they had inside the seed. I emphasize "general" because the root or shoot ...


15

'Organics' usually refer to organic compounds. From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_compound There is no single "official" definition of an organic compound. Some textbooks define an organic compound as one that contains one or more C-H bonds. Others include C-C bonds in the definition. Others state that if a molecule contains ...


15

First, some perspective. The impact of a single fragment of the Shoemaker-Levy comet on Jupiter released an estimated energy equivalent of six million megatons of TNT (approximately 600 times the size of the world's nuclear arsenal), leaving an impact scar that was visible for several months afterward. That was obviously a bad day for Jupiter, but that ...


15

They have been flown on the FOTON-M3 mission... In 2007, three projects were conducted during the FOTON-M3 mission studies. The Tardigrade Resistance to Space Effects (TARSE) Project was the first one involved in the mission of FOTON-M3. Its aim was to analyse the impact of environmental stress, life history traits and DNA damages in space (on ...


14

There is a chamber at the German Aerospace Center designed to imitate the Martian environment. So far there are two published experiments showing that some organisms could survive in the chamber. An imitation of Martian regolith was used, and the organisms were exposed to an imitation of Martian atmosphere with the pressure, temperature range, moisture ...


12

Not if you wanna survive. I joked a bit in the comment, but slightly more seriously, your Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) suit would have to be electrically insulated to prevent electrostatic charge buildup and assume a role of one giant capacitor. And that goes for both ends, not just the outside layer. For one, your life support system would use all kinds ...


12

I'll have to dig through the decadal survey and LPI proceedings a few times, so I decided I have to make this answer a community wiki anyway. As soon as there is a decent answer by anybody else, I'll accept it. Three basic mission modes: getting inside the ocean getting onto the surface doing research from low orbit The main goal: determining habitability ...


12

I think the major obstacle is the level of autonomousness required for a full-fledged lander mission. The communication delay between Earth and Jupiter is between half an hour and an hour (depending on the time of year), one way (so the real delay is twice as long), but intelligent decisions have to be made real-time during the landing, and especially ...


12

The Outer Space Treaty (signed by the US in 1967) specifies that (Article IX): States Parties to the Treaty shall pursue studies of outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, and conduct exploration of them so as to avoid their harmful contamination and also adverse changes in the environment of the Earth resulting from the introduction ...


12

So far (2016) the biggest "room" in orbit was the Orbital Workshop of Skylab. Here's a video showing astronauts moving in the largest part of Skylab. You never get to see the "floor" in this one, unfortunately. The room was so big that they were even able to test an astronaut maneuvering unit (jetpack) inside (see pictures at the end of this answer). I ...


12

No. SpaceX is a space launch company, not a genetic engineering company. That branch of science lies completely outside their research. Never mind the ethical aspect: the astronauts are volunteers, you don't breed people to produce 'optimal astronauts'! That's not to say if someone (some other company) comes up with this sort of adaptations, and people pick ...


11

Depending on exactly what temperature the water on Enceladus is, the answer is yes. Bacteria are an obvious choice. But there is a higher lifeform which can almost certainly survive: Tardigrades (Water bears) can survive for days at −200 °C - longer at higher temperatures, and can cope with extremely acid or alkaline environments. They can even survive in ...


11

Not a chance. Those "clouds" are a vacuum, but just a vacuum that has a few more particles than outside those "clouds". The density of those "clouds" around 1–100 particles per cm³. You can't breathe it at all. You may want to look at this Scaling in Density page at Princeton University: Earth: 5.5 gram/cm³, $1.8 \cdot 10^{23}$ molecules per cm³, Earth ...


10

All kinds of research really, but let's start by quoting NASA's own page on Space Station Boosting Biological Research in Orbit: Studying the science of biology in microgravity opens a world of possibilities! Research ranges from plant growth to cell growth and from bacterial virulence to strength in human bones. The scope of biology research ...


10

For my money, I'd go with Jupiter's moon Europa. First, it has a thin oxygen atmosphere, and oxygen, as we've found, is not something normally found hanging around by itself. Given any chance, it bonds with natural "oxygen sinks" like iron and silicon. Europa has quite a bit of silica as well, and yet there's free oxygen in the atmosphere. We have deduced ...


10

Probably the closest thing to that environment on Earth would be Lake Vostok, which is 4 kilometers below the antarctic surface. Very little, if any, light gets down there, and it's really really cold, but still liquid. Scientists recently found bacteria living there, so it stands to reason that bacteria would survive on Enceladus, but the really amazing ...


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