Table 1: Cellular Stresses
high and ice entrapped population is ancient
Table 1: Cellular Stresses- *If background radiation levels are sufficiently
Sampling in the stratosphere will provide information on organisms' ability to survive extreme environments. Environmental conditions (pressure, temperature, and radiation levels) at an altitude of ~100,000 ft are similar to the conditions on the surface of Mars (Table 1). Finding viable organisms in the stratosphere will provide insight to the possibility of life beyond Earth. The MARSLIFE Team continues to develop and test atmospheric sampling payloads that will provide information for future studies for sampling in the atmosphere of Mars.
In 2010, a low cost sounding balloon payload (HABITAT) tested sampling at altitudes of 10,000 to 30,000 ft. The purpose of HABITAT was to compare the numbers of organisms collected with the existing data. The payloads used silicon grease coated sampling rods (Rotorods, Figure 1) to collect microorganisms during the flight. These rods and the impaction method are commonly used to collect airborne particles for microscopic analysis (e.g. pollen counts). Since we anticipate that the concentrations of cells will be very low at high altitudes, minimizing contamination was critical (Figure 2).
The HABITAT and Pirogue missions have taught us many important lessons. Payload protocols have been developed for decontamination, handling and transportation, launch, recovery and analysis. The MARSLIFE team will continue making payloads for biological sampling of the troposphere and stratosphere.
- Noelle Bryan (LSU Biology Department)
Rogers et al. 1936. Rogers, L. A., and F. C. Meier. 1936. U.S.
Army Air Corps stratosphere flight of 1935 in the balloon "Explorer II," p. 146. The National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C. Sattler et al 2001. Sattler B., Puxbaum H., Psenner R. 2001 Bacterial growth in supercooled cloud droplets. Geophys. Res. Lett. 28, 239-242.