Blog #8: Extremophiles – Exposure in Space

 

waterbearspace
Illustration of “water bear” in space

There are many extremophiles on Earth, some that roam the Sahara Desert and come out only for the hottest parts of the day and some that scale the coldest parts of the arctic. Extremophiles are an interesting phenomenon with applications to discovery of other life in the universe. If these organisms can survive in these extreme circumstances on Earth, who is to say that there are not similar organisms capable of survival in extreme conditions in space? Surviving in space is certainly a different feat than the Sahara or arctic, as space conditions are unpredictable, reaching extreme high and low temperatures and pressures. There are however, polyextremophiles, such as water bears which can survive a variety of extreme conditions. Water bears have even survived exposure to space, including radiation, solar winds, and an oxygen deprived vacuum. The existence polyextremophiles leads us to question if life on other planets is more likely than we think, given the evidence that some unique organisms can survive in such extreme conditions.

Sources: Tardigrades: Water bears in space

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2 thoughts on “Blog #8: Extremophiles – Exposure in Space

  1. While I agree that the existence of such extremophiles heavily implies that life is likely to exist elsewhere in the universe, I am just not sure if it is the type of life that we would be most interested in. For example, it would be pretty cool to discover a planet full of bacteria, but it would be the greatest discovery of modern history to discover a world with intelligent life. Therefore, while extremophiles indicate that life may exist in odd places, it still seems better to focus our attention on where intelligent life is most likely to thrive.

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  2. I did a report in 12th grade AP Bio on tardigrades, and they are some of the most terrifying things to have existed on this planet. Their existence seriously forces us to reconsider what we defined as “requirements for life.” The environments that these things have been shown to survive would have shredded many inorganic material, much less organic material. Pressures, temperature, radiation, lack of water, lack of air, the vacuum of space, the tardigrade finds some way to handle it. Just imagine if these things had human intellect – we’d be wiped off the Earth in days.

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