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Geobiology in Space Exploration An ESA/Global Topical Team.

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Presentation on theme: "Geobiology in Space Exploration An ESA/Global Topical Team."— Presentation transcript:

1 Geobiology in Space Exploration An ESA/Global Topical Team

2 Microbes and rocks – the planetary scale picture Microbial interactions with rocks important for: 1.Long term climate cycle (weathering reactions consume carbon dioxide). 2.Soil formation 3.Nutrients to the biosphere 4.Biomining 5.Searching for and identifying life in extreme environments

3 Applications of geobiology in space

4 Space Applications Advantages of Microbes  Can be specific and efficient catalysts  Can be resistant to extreme environments  Have very diverse metabolic capabilities  Low energy requirements Disadvantages of Microbes  Susceptible to contamination by other strains  Can die  Sometimes growth conditions are quite specific

5 The flow of information can work both ways - Isolation of useful novel extreme tolerant organisms -Testing of experimental apparatus -Testing of scientific hypotheses in diverse scientific environments

6 Objectives of Topical Team 1) Encourage the development of a community. 2) Identify potential applications. 3) Define technical objectives and develop mission plans.

7 Activities so far  Started in 2009  First meeting in May 6 th, 2009, ESTEC, Netherlands  Second meeting, January 18 th 2010, ESTEC, Netherlands  Third meeting, February 2011, Marrakech, Morocco Projects include:  Geobiology in Space Exploration workshop  Developing guidance for ESA (and other agencies) on geobiology  Design of ISS experiment: E-GEM (Extraterrestrial Geomicrobiology Package).

8 Extraterrestrial Geomicrobiology Package (E-GEM)  To study microbe-mineral interactions in space stress and altered gravity  Investigate efficiency of weathering reactions  Develop prototype biomining apparatus  Experiment went in to review. Scored 85/100  Now into definition phase for flight


10 Geobiology in Space Exploration 7-15 February, Marrakech, 2011  53 attendees  2.5 days of talks  Break-out groups  Substantial 4 day field trip

11 Geobiology in Space Exploration 2 2013 Possible locations Janet Siefert - Cuatro Cienegas, Mexico Julio Valdivia Silva - Peru

12 Volcanic Environment Microbial Observatory


14 Questions Microbes in Volcanic Habitats  Who are the first colonizers?  What is the distribution of chemolithotrophs?  Which organisms are active in weathering?  What does this tell us about life elsewhere?

15  Cold Temperatures  Volcanic environment  Basaltic rocks



18 Fe 2+ Fe 3+ Geobacter spp. Gallionella spp.

19 Molecular diversity of bacteria Sampling of microbial diversity Herrera, A. 2009 et al. Astrobiology 9, 369-38 Cockell, CS et al. 2009 Geobiology 7, 5-65 Kelly, L et al. 2010 Microb. Ecol. 60, 740-752

20 Follow the Kinetics Dig Here

21 What’s needed?  Common organism collections  Common methodologies/protocols  Exchange schemes for scientists  Sample distribution/analysis

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