Presentation on theme: "Geobiology in Space Exploration An ESA/Global Topical Team."— Presentation transcript:
Geobiology in Space Exploration An ESA/Global Topical Team
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
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
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
Objectives of Topical Team 1) Encourage the development of a community. 2) Identify potential applications. 3) Define technical objectives and develop mission plans.
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).
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
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?
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