Lichen Survives In Space


During the Foton-M2 mission, which was launched into low-Earth orbit on 31 May 2005, the lichens, which came from two different species (Rhizocarpon geographicum and Xanthoria elegans) were exposed for a total 14.6 days before being returned to Earth.

Leopoldo Sancho from the Complutense University of Madrid, indicate that lichens have the capacity to resist full exposure to the harsh space conditions, especially high levels of UV radiation. Analysis post flight showed a full rate of survival and an unchanged ability for photosynthesis.

This experiment opens up many possibilities for future research into the possibility of transfer of life between planets. Follow up experiments could focus on questions such as to what extent lichen, if transported by a meteorite, can survive the reentry conditions into Earth's atmosphere.

Lichen Survives In Space

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