In “The Smallest “Astronauts” Set for Launch November 8” (Scientific American, November 4, 2011), David Warmflash reports on a useful Russian experiment:
Did space rocks seed Earth with life? To test that idea, a Russian probe is about to see whether microbes can survive a round-trip to Mars
Could life on Earth have originated on Mars? over the past two decades that question has left the pages of science fiction and entered the mainstream of empirical science. Planetary scientists have found that rocks from Mars do make their way to Earth; in fact, we estimate that a ton of Martian material strikes our planet every year. Microorganisms might have come along for the ride.
Only a few meteors get here in a year or so, and the question is, could a microorganism survive the trip?
One creature to be tested is the animal, tardigrade (water bear), which can survive temperatures approaching absolute zero and above boiling point, as well as massive doses of radiation:
Isn’t it encouraging to see people testing one of these ideas for once?