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Martian habitat

Kimberley A Warren-Rhodes, Kevin C Lee, Stephen D J Archer, Nathalie Cabrol, Linda Ng-Boyle, David Wettergreen, Kris Zacny, Stephen B Pointing
Sediments in the hyper-arid core of the Atacama Desert are a terrestrial analog to Mars regolith. Understanding the distribution and drivers of microbial life in the sediment may give critical clues on how to search for biosignatures on Mars. Here, we identify the spatial distribution of highly specialized bacterial communities in previously unexplored depth horizons of subsurface sediments to a depth of 800 mm. We deployed an autonomous rover in a mission-relevant Martian drilling scenario with manual sample validation...
2019: Frontiers in Microbiology
Jean-Pierre de Vera, Mashal Alawi, Theresa Backhaus, Mickael Baqué, Daniela Billi, Ute Böttger, Thomas Berger, Maria Bohmeier, Charles Cockell, René Demets, Rosa de la Torre Noetzel, Howell Edwards, Andreas Elsaesser, Claudia Fagliarone, Annelie Fiedler, Bernard Foing, Frédéric Foucher, Jörg Fritz, Franziska Hanke, Thomas Herzog, Gerda Horneck, Heinz-Wilhelm Hübers, Björn Huwe, Jasmin Joshi, Natalia Kozyrovska, Martha Kruchten, Peter Lasch, Natuschka Lee, Stefan Leuko, Thomas Leya, Andreas Lorek, Jesús Martínez-Frías, Joachim Meessen, Sophie Moritz, Ralf Moeller, Karen Olsson-Francis, Silvano Onofri, Sieglinde Ott, Claudia Pacelli, Olga Podolich, Elke Rabbow, Günther Reitz, Petra Rettberg, Oleg Reva, Lynn Rothschild, Leo Garcia Sancho, Dirk Schulze-Makuch, Laura Selbmann, Paloma Serrano, Ulrich Szewzyk, Cyprien Verseux, Jennifer Wadsworth, Dirk Wagner, Frances Westall, David Wolter, Laura Zucconi
BIOMEX (BIOlogy and Mars EXperiment) is an ESA/Roscosmos space exposure experiment housed within the exposure facility EXPOSE-R2 outside the Zvezda module on the International Space Station (ISS). The design of the multiuser facility supports-among others-the BIOMEX investigations into the stability and level of degradation of space-exposed biosignatures such as pigments, secondary metabolites, and cell surfaces in contact with a terrestrial and Mars analog mineral environment. In parallel, analysis on the viability of the investigated organisms has provided relevant data for evaluation of the habitability of Mars, for the limits of life, and for the likelihood of an interplanetary transfer of life (theory of lithopanspermia)...
February 2019: Astrobiology
Briardo Llorente, Thomas C Williams, Hugh D Goold
The interest in human space journeys to distant planets and moons has been re-ignited in recent times and there are ongoing plans for sending the first manned missions to Mars in the near future. In addition to generating oxygen, fixing carbon, and recycling waste and water, plants could play a critical role in producing food and biomass feedstock for the microbial manufacture of materials, chemicals, and medicines in long-term interplanetary outposts. However, because life on Earth evolved under the conditions of the terrestrial biosphere, plants will not perform optimally in different planetary habitats...
July 10, 2018: Genes
Hamidah Idris, Michael Goodfellow, Roy Sanderson, Juan A Asenjo, Alan T Bull
The Atacama Desert is the most extreme non-polar biome on Earth, the core region of which is considered to represent the dry limit for life and to be an analogue for Martian soils. This study focused on actinobacteria because they are keystone species in terrestrial ecosystems and are acknowledged as an unrivalled source of bioactive compounds. Metagenomic analyses of hyper-arid and extreme hyper-arid soils in this desert revealed a remarkable degree of actinobacterial 'dark matter', evidenced by a detected increase of 34% in families against those that are validly published...
August 21, 2017: Scientific Reports
Peter Cavanagh, Andrea Rice, Molly Glauberman, Amanda Sudduth, Arien Cherones, Shane Davis, Michael Lewis, Andrea Hanson, Grier Wilt
BACKGROUND: Treadmills have been employed as both a form of exercise and a countermeasure to prevent changes in the musculoskeletal system on almost all NASA missions and many Russian missions since the early Space Shuttle flights. It is possible that treadmills may also be part of exercise programs on future Mars missions and that they may be a component of exercise facilities in lunar or Martian habitats. METHODS: In order to determine if the ambient gravity on these destinations will provide osteogenic effects while performing exercise on a treadmill, ground reactions forces (GRFs) were measured on eight subjects (six women and two men) running at 6 mph during parabolic flight in Martian and lunar gravity conditions...
August 1, 2017: Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance
J A Hurowitz, J P Grotzinger, W W Fischer, S M McLennan, R E Milliken, N Stein, A R Vasavada, D F Blake, E Dehouck, J L Eigenbrode, A G Fairén, J Frydenvang, R Gellert, J A Grant, S Gupta, K E Herkenhoff, D W Ming, E B Rampe, M E Schmidt, K L Siebach, K Stack-Morgan, D Y Sumner, R C Wiens
In 2012, NASA's Curiosity rover landed on Mars to assess its potential as a habitat for past life and investigate the paleoclimate record preserved by sedimentary rocks inside the ~150-kilometer-diameter Gale impact crater. Geological reconstructions from Curiosity rover data have revealed an ancient, habitable lake environment fed by rivers draining into the crater. We synthesize geochemical and mineralogical data from lake-bed mudstones collected during the first 1300 martian solar days of rover operations in Gale...
June 2, 2017: Science
Brian J Chow, Tzehan Chen, Ying Zhong, Yu Qiao
Martian habitats are ideally constructed using only locally available soils; extant attempts to process structural materials on Mars, however, generally require additives or calcination. In this work we demonstrate that Martian soil simulant Mars-1a can be directly compressed at ambient into a strong solid without additives, highlighting a possible aspect of complete Martian in-situ resource utilization. Flexural strength of the compact is not only determined by the compaction pressure but also significantly influenced by the lateral boundary condition of processing loading...
April 27, 2017: Scientific Reports
Gilbert V Levin, Patricia Ann Straat
The 1976 Viking Labeled Release (LR) experiment was positive for extant microbial life on the surface of Mars. Experiments on both Viking landers, 4000 miles apart, yielded similar, repeatable, positive responses. While the authors eventually concluded that the experiment detected martian life, this was and remains a highly controversial conclusion. Many believe that the martian environment is inimical to life and the LR responses were nonbiological, attributed to an as-yet-unidentified oxidant (or oxidants) in the martian soil...
October 2016: Astrobiology
Emanuele Forte, Michele Dalle Fratte, Maurizio Azzaro, Mauro Guglielmin
Interest in brines in extreme and cold environments has recently increased after they have been found on Mars. Those brines can be potential new subsurface habitats for peculiar ecosystems. In the McMurdo Dry Valleys of the Antarctic, the best analogue for Mars conditions, only a few cases of brines have been identified in some perennially frozen lakes and in one case in an underground aquifer. Here, we present the occurrence of pressurized brines in a shallow perennially ice-covered lake south of 70°S in an ice-free area of Victoria Land, Antarctica...
September 12, 2016: Scientific Reports
Daria Morozova, Ralf Moeller, Petra Rettberg, Dirk Wagner
UNLABELLED: Permafrost-affected soils are characterized by a high abundance and diversity of methanogenic communities, which are considered suitable model organisms for potential life on Mars. Methanogens from Siberian permafrost have been proven to be highly resistant against divers stress conditions such as subzero temperatures, desiccation, and simulated thermophysical martian conditions. Here, we studied the radiation resistance of the currently described new species Methanosarcina soligelidi SMA-21, which was isolated from a Siberian permafrost-affected soil, in comparison to Methanosarcina barkeri, which is used as a reference organism from a nonpermafrost soil environment...
November 2015: Astrobiology
C Strewe, B E Crucian, C F Sams, B Feuerecker, R P Stowe, A Choukèr, M Feuerecker
BACKGROUND: Spaceflight is associated with immune dysregulation which is considered as risk factor for the performance of exploration-class missions. Among the consequences of confinement and other environmental factors of living in hostile environments, the role of different oxygen concentrations is of importance as either low (e.g. as considered for lunar or Martian habitats) or high (e.g. during extravehicular activities) can trigger immune dysfunction. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of increased oxygen availability--generated through hyperbaricity--on innate immune functions in the course of a 14 days NEEMO mission...
November 2015: Brain, Behavior, and Immunity
Nigel J F Blamey, John Parnell, Sean McMahon, Darren F Mark, Tim Tomkinson, Martin Lee, Jared Shivak, Matthew R M Izawa, Neil R Banerjee, Roberta L Flemming
The putative occurrence of methane in the Martian atmosphere has had a major influence on the exploration of Mars, especially by the implication of active biology. The occurrence has not been borne out by measurements of atmosphere by the MSL rover Curiosity but, as on Earth, methane on Mars is most likely in the subsurface of the crust. Serpentinization of olivine-bearing rocks, to yield hydrogen that may further react with carbon-bearing species, has been widely invoked as a source of methane on Mars, but this possibility has not hitherto been tested...
2015: Nature Communications
Liam V Harris, Ian B Hutchinson, Richard Ingley, Craig P Marshall, Alison Olcott Marshall, Howell G M Edwards
Knowledge and understanding of the martian environment has advanced greatly over the past two decades, beginning with NASA's return to the surface of Mars with the Pathfinder mission and its rover Sojourner in 1997 and continuing today with data being returned by the Curiosity rover. Reduced carbon, however, is yet to be detected on the martian surface, despite its abundance in meteorites originating from the planet. If carbon is detected on Mars, it could be a remnant of extinct life, although an abiotic source is much more likely...
June 2015: Astrobiology
Janosch Schirmack, Mashal Alawi, Dirk Wagner
Methanogenic archaea have been studied as model organisms for possible life on Mars for several reasons: they can grow lithoautotrophically by using hydrogen and carbon dioxide as energy and carbon sources, respectively; they are anaerobes; and they evolved at a time when conditions on early Earth are believed to have looked similar to those of early Mars. As Mars is currently dry and cold and as water might be available only at certain time intervals, any organism living on this planet would need to cope with desiccation...
2015: Frontiers in Microbiology
Laura Selbmann, Laura Zucconi, Daniela Isola, Silvano Onofri
This work focuses on rock-inhabiting fungi (RIF) of Antarctic rocky deserts, considered the closest to a possible Martian habitat, as the best example of adaptation to the extremes. The study of RIF ecophysiology, resistance and adaptation provides tools that shed light on the evolution of extremophily. These studies also help define the actual limits for life and provide insight for investigating its existence beyond our planet. The scientific results obtained from over 20 years of research on the biodiversity, phylogeny and evolution toward extremotolerance reviewed here demonstrate how these fascinating organisms can withstand conditions well beyond those in their natural environment...
August 2015: Current Genetics
Amor A Menezes, John Cumbers, John A Hogan, Adam P Arkin
This paper demonstrates the significant utility of deploying non-traditional biological techniques to harness available volatiles and waste resources on manned missions to explore the Moon and Mars. Compared with anticipated non-biological approaches, it is determined that for 916 day Martian missions: 205 days of high-quality methane and oxygen Mars bioproduction with Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum can reduce the mass of a Martian fuel-manufacture plant by 56%; 496 days of biomass generation with Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima on Mars can decrease the shipped wet-food mixed-menu mass for a Mars stay and a one-way voyage by 38%; 202 days of Mars polyhydroxybutyrate synthesis with Cupriavidus necator can lower the shipped mass to three-dimensional print a 120 m(3) six-person habitat by 85% and a few days of acetaminophen production with engineered Synechocystis sp...
January 6, 2015: Journal of the Royal Society, Interface
Riad Hosein, Shirin Haque, Denise M Beckles
Eleven onshore mud volcanoes in the southern region of Trinidad have been studied as analog habitats for possible microbial life on Mars. The profiles of the 11 mud volcanoes are presented in terms of their physical, chemical, mineralogical, and soil properties. The mud volcanoes sampled all emitted methane gas consistently at 3% volume. The average pH for the mud volcanic soil was 7.98. The average Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) was found to be 2.16 kg/mol, and the average Percentage Water Content was 34.5%...
2014: Life
Eugene G Grosch, Nicola McLoughlin, Pierre Lanari, Muriel Erambert, Olivier Vidal
Subseafloor environments preserved in Archean greenstone belts provide an analogue for investigating potential subsurface habitats on Mars. The c. 3.5-3.4 Ga pillow lava metabasalts of the mid-Archean Barberton greenstone belt, South Africa, have been argued to contain the earliest evidence for microbial subseafloor life. This includes candidate trace fossils in the form of titanite microtextures, and sulfur isotopic signatures of pyrite preserved in metabasaltic glass of the c. 3.472 Ga Hooggenoeg Formation...
March 2014: Astrobiology
Charles S Cockell
Beginning from two plausible starting points-an uninhabited or inhabited Mars-this paper discusses the possible trajectories of martian habitability over time. On an uninhabited Mars, the trajectories follow paths determined by the abundance of uninhabitable environments and uninhabited habitats. On an inhabited Mars, the addition of a third environment type, inhabited habitats, results in other trajectories, including ones where the planet remains inhabited today or others where planetary-scale life extinction occurs...
February 2014: Astrobiology
J Meessen, F J Sánchez, A Sadowsky, R de la Torre, S Ott, J-P de Vera
Lichens, which are symbioses of a fungus and one or two photoautotrophs, frequently tolerate extreme environmental conditions. This makes them valuable model systems in astrobiological research to fathom the limits and limitations of eukaryotic symbioses. Various studies demonstrated the high resistance of selected extremotolerant lichens towards extreme, non-terrestrial abiotic factors including space exposure, hypervelocity impact simulations as well as space and Martian parameter simulations. This study focusses on the diverse set of secondary lichen compounds (SLCs) that act as photo- and UVR-protective substances...
December 2013: Origins of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere
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