Resistance to simulated extraterrestrial conditions (space and Mars) of the first colonizing lichens collected from a Mars analogue volcanic area (Lanzarote)
Rosa De La Torre  1, *@  , Jesus Martinez Frias  2  , Maria Rosa Lopez Ramirez  3  , Anna Miller  4  , M. Victoria Ortega  1  , Olga Bassy  5  , Beatriz Cubero  6  , Luisa Jordao  7  , Leopoldo Sancho  8  , Jean-Pierre De Vera  9@  
1 : Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial
Torrejón de Ardoz, Madrid -  Spain
2 : Instituto de Geociencias, IGEO (CSIC-Univ. Complutense Madrid)
Madrid -  Spain
3 : UMA, Dto. Química-Física
Málaga -  Spain
4 : Laborarorio HERança CULtural, Estudos e Salvaguarda
Universidade de Evora,Largo Marquês de Marialva, 8 Palácio do Vimioso 7000-089 Évora -  Portugal
5 : ISDEFE (As External Consultant for INTA)
Madrid -  Spain
6 : IRNAS-CSIC, Instituto de Recursos Naturales y Agrobiología de Sevilla
Sevilla -  Spain
7 : Instituto Nacional de Saùde Dr Ricardo Jorge [Portugal]
Lisboa -  Portugal
8 : Universidad Complutense de Madrid [Madrid]
Avda. de Séneca, 2, Ciudad Universitaria, 28040 Madrid -  Spain
9 : German Aerospace Center, Institute of Planetary Research  (DLR)
Berlin -  Germany
* : Corresponding author

The main goal of the BIOSIGN (Biosignatures and Habitable Niches 14-ILSRA_Prop-0019) experiment is to support and prepare future planetary exploration missions to Mars, Enceladus, Europa and/or Titan by conducting exposure experiments on the ISS. To maximize the scientific output, the outcome of BIOSIGN will be connected to the results obtained on ground from recent and up-coming planetary analogue field studies and planetary simulation facilities. The principal objectives are related to: 1) analyses of the survival capacity of selected organisms and micro-fossils from planetary/Mars analogue field sites (in reference to design and results of the precursor experiments LIFE [1] and BIOMEX [2] in space; 2) analyses of a new set of biomolecules (other than previously tested in BIOMEX) on their stability as well as on their products and mechanisms of degradation; and 3) evaluation by the obtained results, of the habitability of present and past Mars. Data obtained by this experiment will allow an efficient characterization of real biosignatures [3] which could be detected on Mars or nearby the geysers and fountains next to the cracks of the icy moons in the solar system. Furthermore, these results will significantly enlarge our knowledge about niches on other planets, which might form habitats even under extreme extraterrestrial conditions or preserve bio-molecules by protecting them from harmful environmental conditions such as UV-radiation, ionizing radiation, low atmospheric pressure to vacuum, total desiccation and extreme temperature regimes. Additionally, the studies on the stability of biomolecules will help to answer the question of what are suitable and promising biomolecules to focus on in the search of life. Our contribution is based on the planned guidelines of BIOSIGN and is focussed on the research of environmental and habitability aspects. Here we will show the first results of the survival capacity we have obtained with organisms selected from potential analogue Mars sites, such as the lichens species Stereocaulon vesubianum, one of the first colonizers on Teide´s volcano and at Lanzarote (Canary Islands) after exposure to space- and Mars simulated conditions at the planetary simulation chamber PASC of CAB-INTA [4].

 References

 [1] Onofri, S., de la Torre, R., de Vera, J.P., Ott, S., Zucconi, L., Selbmann, L., Scalzi, G., Venkateswaran, K.J., Rabbow, E., Sánchez, F.J., Horneck, G., 2012. Survival of rock-colonizing organisms after 1.5 year in outer space. Astrobiology 12: 508-516.

[2] de Vera JP and the BIOMEX-Team (2012) Supporting Mars exploration: BIOMEX in Low Earth Orbit and further astrobiological studies on the Moon using Raman and PanCam technology. Planetary and Space Science, 74 (1), Seiten 103-110. Elsevier. DOI:10.1016/j.pss.2012.06.010.

[3] U. Böttger, J. Meessen, J. Martinez-Frias, H.-W. Hübers, F. Rull, F. J. Sánchez, R. de la Torre, J.P. de Vera (2013) Raman Spectroscopic Analysis of the Calcium Oxalate Producing Extremotolerant Lichen Circinaria gyrosa.

[4] E. Mateo-Martí, O. Prieto-Ballesteros, J. M. Sobrado, J. Gómez-Elvira, and J. A. Martín-Gago (2006). A chamber for studying planetary environments and its applications to astrobiology . Meas. Sci. Technol. 17, 2274–2280.


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