THE PLANETARY QUARANTINE PROBLEM AND ITS SUBSTANTIATION ON THE BASIS OF THE RESULTS OF EXOBIOLOGICAL EXPERIMENTS
Published: 1 Jun 2014
Abstract: The RF SRC – Institute of Biomedical Problems, Russian Academy of Sciences, has developed Biorisk hardware to study the effects of long-term exposure of dormant forms of various organisms to outer space and completed experiments on the Russian Module of the International Space Station. The first experiment was performed using spores of bacteria (Bacillus) and fungi (Penicillium, Aspergillus and Cladosporium) housed in 3 boxes that were exposed to outer space for 7, 12 or 18 months. It was for the first time demonstrated that bacterial and fungal spores could survive an exposure to outer space during the time period comparable with the duration of a return mission to Mars. Moreover, the microbial strains proved viable and highly active. The second experiment was expanded by flying, in addition to the above spores, dormant forms of higher plants, insects, lower crustaceans and vertebrates. The 31-month experiment showed that, in spite of harsher than in the first study temperatures, some specimens remained viable and capable of further multiplication. In summary, our experiments provided evidence that not only bacterial and fungal spores but also dormant forms of organisms that reached higher levels of evolutionary development had the capability to survive a long-term exposure to outer space. This observation suggests that they can be transferred on outer walls of space platforms during interplanetary missions. Our findings are of great scientific interest as well as of huge importance for the development of planetary quarantine concepts related to future space exploration missions.
Keywords: planetary quarantine, microorganisms, dormant forms of various organisms, outer space
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