New Mars Forums

Official discussion forum of The Mars Society and MarsNews.com

You are not logged in.

Announcement

Announcement: This forum is accepting new registrations by emailing newmarsmember * gmail.com become a registered member. Read the Recruiting expertise for NewMars Forum topic in Meta New Mars for other information for this process.

#1 2013-09-29 00:28:09

DmT
InActive
Registered: 2013-09-07
Posts: 1

Sending extremophiles to Mars

Hello all,

I have a rather simple question. Are there any obstacles in sending extremophiles to Mars to study how they react to the environment?  Maybe some of them would survive and it would be great to monitor how they do it.

It would be a very interesting and probably popular biological research. The funding could even be obtained for example from Kickstarter (with proper marketing - like "contribute to seeding first life to Mars" etc.).

As an additional bonus, in the long run it would be an insurance to life in our solar system (in case something happens to the earth).

Appreciate your thoughts on this topic.
Kind regards,

Offline

#2 2013-09-29 08:54:40

JoshNH4H
Member
From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,551
Website

Re: Sending extremophiles to Mars

Hi DmT, I would firstly like to welcome you to newmars.  I hope we see a lot of you on here in the future!

With regards to your question, we could certainly try it!  I would recommend seeding the surface with methanogens (single-celled organisms that make methane, a powerful greenhouse gas).  However, I'm not sure if they would survive, or more importantly thrive, on the Red Planet. 

Bacteria are quite light, though, so we could conceivably send them as a rider with the next thing that gets sent to the Martian surface.


-Josh

Offline

#3 2013-09-29 10:42:41

Terraformer
Member
From: Ceres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,827
Website

Re: Sending extremophiles to Mars

Not that people would be happy with it. They don't want Mars to be "contaminated".

If we ignore them, though, I'd target areas that seem to have ice, that also get above freezing.


Use what is abundant and build to last

Offline

#4 2013-09-29 13:41:12

JoshNH4H
Member
From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,551
Website

Re: Sending extremophiles to Mars

The thing about Mars is that places that have ice tend to be exactly the places that do not get above freezing


-Josh

Offline

#5 2013-09-29 18:10:24

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 7,208

Re: Sending extremophiles to Mars

I think we need first to establish whether Mars is biologically dead before we start introducing new organisms there.  That could take a long time to establish - maybe 100 years, as we investigate every nook and cranny.

Best to keep extremophiles away I would say. We know already they can survive Mars-like conditions, don't we? So what does it prove?


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

Offline

#6 2013-09-30 01:20:24

Terraformer
Member
From: Ceres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,827
Website

Re: Sending extremophiles to Mars

100 years... without terraforming? Seriously?

I say we go ahead with non-biological terraforming, then give any potential life the opportunity to come out into the new, more hospitable conditions. If none emerges within the decade, then full speed ahead.

But chances are, people will introduce life anyway, even if they don't mean to.


Use what is abundant and build to last

Offline

#7 2013-11-03 21:28:08

Koeng
Member
Registered: 2012-09-05
Posts: 48
Website

Re: Sending extremophiles to Mars

Hey everyone! Its been a while since I've been here, i have been working on my current career with synthetic biology

With me, I fully support sending extremophiles to mars for the purpose of terraforming. (If I get done with my current projects, which should take a couple years, I plan on beginning creation of a extremophile to assist in terraforming mars)

I think that a major problem is cost. Bacteria multiply themselves, which is convenient if the public suddenly decides to stop funding a terraforming project. This makes cost very minimal. One of my current ideas for a bacterium goes as the follows;

Metabolism:
The bacteria would be photosynthetic and have the ability to metabolism iron (as is in the ground). For max effect, the bacteria would express both bacteriorhodopsin and average photosynthetic proteins, therefore absorbing as much sunlight as possible. The bacteria would be based off of a psychrophile, a cold loving bacteria, and would use an extreme amount of DNA repair proteins to be resistant to the UV radiation. For the iron metabolism to be most effective, there needs to be a biofilm. This biofilm surrounding the cells could also provide protection from UV and a place to condense water molecules for the organisms

Adaptation
There is 2 replication systems I would include in this bacterium. One would be for maintaining minimal function of the cell in its environment and for genes required for terraformation, the separate one for increased mutation, making it able to adapt to its environment extremely quickly. Whatever works, they use.

Terraformation
Well, I haven't done that much research on chemicals for terraformation, so is there any ones that anyone has thought of for terraformation? (Methane would work but it requires quite a bit of Hydrogen, one of the things that Mars lacks)


Lets terraform today!

[url=http://www.terraformingforum.com]www.terraformingforum.com[/url]

Offline

#8 2013-11-04 00:17:27

JoshNH4H
Member
From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,551
Website

Re: Sending extremophiles to Mars

Hey Koeng!  Where are you doing your research?  It sounds fascinating and I'd love to be able to look into it more.

It's my understanding that there is significantly more water on Mars than we had thought.  That's not to say that bacteria would have loads extra of the stuff but it should be relatively comparable to places where there are significant amounts of life.

I would suggest that methane and ammonia would be good greenhouse gases for bacteria to synthesize on Mars, because the genes to do so already exist in the wild and thus we would have a template to do so in these organisms.  My question would be if natural selection would result in their not doing so, because it would be energy wasted compared to not producing ammonia or methane.


-Josh

Offline

#9 2013-11-04 05:33:10

Spaniard
Member
From: Spain
Registered: 2008-04-18
Posts: 133

Re: Sending extremophiles to Mars

I'm not so sure that we could build extremophiles that could thrive on Mars. There is extremophile that tolerates radiation, that tolerates very dry enviroments, very cold ones... but, all the same time, in the most extremes, and not only survive but thrive?
Too much.

Instead, I think that we could design, in some decades when we have the advancements in artificial life, multicellular organisms enough complex to create a "bubble", a "microscopic paraterraformation". Think, for example, in a organism capable to build a crystalline, similar to glass, sufficiently thick to contain some internal pressure and moist, and a black porous life, sustance inside, to retain heat. A very active "plant" capable of efficient energy capture, and generate heat inside while the whether cold. The porous material allow to retain easily the heat.
A biological design similar to a solar thermal plant with heat and chemical accumulation.
And roots that could penetrate in the "soil" (very cold) using some chemicals to break it even at these temperatures.

Offline

#10 2013-11-04 13:56:18

Void
Member
Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 7,298

Re: Sending extremophiles to Mars

Keong, I am intimidated by your credentials, but perhaps a start could be made with Lichen after all?

http://www.skymania.com/wp/2012/04/lich … ting.html/

Unless that is a fraud.

My understanding is that lichen can absorb moisture from frost or even the air at below freezing temperatures.  The day night cycles promote frost, and even a brief period of liquid water.  It appears that in favored conditions the lichen could even endure the UV.

If you worked on each, the Algae/Cyanobacteria and the Fungi portions, and then recombined them perhaps they could be made to function even better.


Done.

Offline

#11 2013-11-04 16:01:18

Koeng
Member
Registered: 2012-09-05
Posts: 48
Website

Re: Sending extremophiles to Mars

Right now I do research at UCI for a system for directed evolution, but I want to soon get into making minimal organisms. I remember on the DIYbiology forms when this article came up http://www.pnas.org/content/102/44/15971.full.pdf, you might be interested.

@Void Lichen are a good idea (no need to be intimidated, any idea is good)! The engineering of the fungi portion could be difficult, however, since these naturally grow very slowly and the fungi also would have rather large genomes, making manipulation hard. But if it was done the organism would most likely be much much tougher and could uptake resources more efficiently because it is (practically) multicellular

@Spaniard I think that the idea for the multicellular organism you propose could be just a bacterial extremophile community. Think of a colony of these organisms... and they produce biofilm (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biofilm) that has all the properties you speech of. The express black proteins for heat retention, and their biofilm is slimly, making there less evaporation. Perhaps at night there could be a genetic circuit to uptake water once the temperatures go down. Personally i think that would be a good idea because it would be easy to engineer. If you think about it, the community working on single celled organisms will almost always be ahead of mutlicellular organism researchers in genetic manipulation capability.

@ JoshNH4H Good news that there is water! But still a problem for the Methanogens is hydrogen... as I know there is not much on Mars, and the hydrogen they have still needs to be used for water. But I don't know, perhaps it doesn't matter and they can still do that. If it is efficient enough, the cells could probably use it. it sucks that most other greenhouse gases are toxic.... Is there any others you guys know that can be created with organic compounds? (there HAS to be some greenhouse gas that these bacteria make because their CO2 uptake is going to reverse the effects otherwise xD)

-Koeng


Lets terraform today!

[url=http://www.terraformingforum.com]www.terraformingforum.com[/url]

Offline

#12 2013-11-04 16:16:53

Terraformer
Member
From: Ceres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,827
Website

Re: Sending extremophiles to Mars

I don't suppose we could persuade them to fluorinate a sulfur, 6 times? tongue

Other than hydrocarbons, and singly fluorinated derivatives, I can't think of any that are non-toxic.


Use what is abundant and build to last

Offline

#13 2013-11-04 17:34:52

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 29,204

Re: Sending extremophiles to Mars

The choice of which type to populate mars with still means that for a short period why they adjust it will be necessary to give them a bit of protection in order to allow a growth in the seed population to take root to allow for a changin future for man.

Offline

#14 2013-11-04 17:55:06

Koeng
Member
Registered: 2012-09-05
Posts: 48
Website

Re: Sending extremophiles to Mars

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermogenesis

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermogenin

Could be useful. And man would probably be needed to seed the population, but people will most likely land on mars before terraforming is implemented


Lets terraform today!

[url=http://www.terraformingforum.com]www.terraformingforum.com[/url]

Offline

#15 2013-11-05 02:40:12

Spaniard
Member
From: Spain
Registered: 2008-04-18
Posts: 133

Re: Sending extremophiles to Mars

My point is that most extremophiles are prokaryotes. Prokaryotes has little margin to create a complex macroorganism, no matter how much we redesign them.
I think that there is more possibilities to build complex organisms that could transform fast the environment, and, although much less endurable at cellular level, is more resilient as a whole organism, because creates a heave skin around it, that ultraresiliant prokaryotes that could only create simple colonies and simple protection because can not create an organism as a common thing.

Of course, if we reach the level of create new artificial life, we could develop extremophiles and multicellular designed from scratch.
Perhaps even in new solvents different from water could allow incredible low temperatures, capable of exists in places like Jupiter and Saturn moons.

Offline

#16 2013-11-05 21:11:37

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 29,204

Re: Sending extremophiles to Mars

File:Relative_scale.svg

With perspective to a foothold on a planet that is so harsh we need the toughest of creators and if that means a simple one to start out then that is where the effort should be placed.

Offline

#17 2013-11-05 23:15:15

Koeng
Member
Registered: 2012-09-05
Posts: 48
Website

Re: Sending extremophiles to Mars

Spaniard wrote:

My point is that most extremophiles are prokaryotes. Prokaryotes has little margin to create a complex macroorganism, no matter how much we redesign them.
I think that there is more possibilities to build complex organisms that could transform fast the environment, and, although much less endurable at cellular level, is more resilient as a whole organism, because creates a heave skin around it, that ultraresiliant prokaryotes that could only create simple colonies and simple protection because can not create an organism as a common thing.

Of course, if we reach the level of create new artificial life, we could develop extremophiles and multicellular designed from scratch.
Perhaps even in new solvents different from water could allow incredible low temperatures, capable of exists in places like Jupiter and Saturn moons.


I think my main point is going to be in logistics. By the time we have the technology to engineer an entire macro organism capable of replication, we could have already finished terraforming with bacteria. I mean, we can't(haven't) even engineered an entire bacteria from scratch. We don't even know what all the genes do in the smallest organism there is.

Here is an example: Antarctica. What do we find there? Only 2 flowering plants, yet hundreds of species of lichen, simply because small organisms have the ability to adapt and grow faster under these harsh circumstances because they are durable at the cellular level.

If effort is going to be placed to terraform, redesigning an entire organism would work better then extremophiles, but it is useless if it never gets completed due to funding or loss of public interest.

-Koeng


Lets terraform today!

[url=http://www.terraformingforum.com]www.terraformingforum.com[/url]

Offline

#18 2013-11-11 09:23:05

Void
Member
Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 7,298

Re: Sending extremophiles to Mars

Koeng said some time ago,

@Void Lichen are a good idea (no need to be intimidated, any idea is good)! The engineering of the fungi portion could be difficult, however, since these naturally grow very slowly and the fungi also would have rather large genomes, making manipulation hard. But if it was done the organism would most likely be much much tougher and could uptake resources more efficiently because it is (practically) multicellular

I have been wondering since our conversation, if lichen could be upgraded.  Since some forms tollerate cyanobacteria (I think),
then could it be induced to host Nitrogen fixing bacteria as well?  (I am sure it is not easy).  I have read that there are efforts underway for instance to cause Corn to be symbiotic with Nitrogen fixiing bacteria.

But, since Lichen typically gets it's nutrients from breaking down rocks, or from dust in the atmosphere, it's motabolism is slow, but with more nutrients, and a tweek to it's motabolism, perhaps it could have a better energy budget, and could afford more repairs of it's DNA.

Further, if you did give its component organisms better repair tools, such as redundant DNA, that might help.

Finally I have a vague understanding of the situation but I have read that there are two types of photosynthis in plants, one more ancient, and less complex, and one more complex, but getting more out of the sunlight.  I have read that there are efforts being made to figure out how to cause some crops with primitive photosynthisis to adopt the more advanced version.  I assume that Algae and Cyanobacteria use the primitive, and might be caused to upgrade by manipulations.

Perhaps that targeting of Nutrition, Motabolism, more advanced Photosynthis, and DNA repairs, where there would be a tripple symbiosis (Fungi, Cyanobacteria/Algae, and Nitogen fixing bacteria), could be made to thrive in a large portion of the Martian surface environment.

Self Correction:
It seems that Cyanobacteria can fix nitrogen, but I am not sure the ones in some Lichens do.
But for Lichen with Algae, perhaps a tripple symbiosis might help.

Last edited by Void (2013-11-11 11:15:05)


Done.

Offline

#19 2013-11-12 21:27:23

Koeng
Member
Registered: 2012-09-05
Posts: 48
Website

Re: Sending extremophiles to Mars

Nitrogen I almost forgot! I actually have a colleague working on a nitrogenase that works in oxygen environments (normally they don't, that why plants have to have nitrogen fixing bacteria underground in little nodules), and since he is working on putting it into cyanobacteria/algae already, it would most likely operate in a lichen

Perhaps having lichen AND extremophilic bacteria on the surface would be a good route. Natural selection at its finest. Perhaps the lichen could even uptake the extremophiles living in biofilm on the surface

Also I think that energy is not a restricting factor, since DNA repair is cheap (just if it gets too good no mutation happens, aka no evolution). Mutation HAS to happen or else we would most likely still be lil strands of RNA.

On the types of photosynthesis, cyanobacteria use the more advanced. Why? Because they can adapt quicker then plants. Lets say a cyanobacteria multiplies every hour. A plant mutliplies every 100 days. That means that the cyanobacteria have 2400 more chances on mutations developing the new system (because they multiply 2400x faster), and in addition to that the cyanobacteria can afford to have less DNA repair because they don't need to multiply billions of identical cells, so mutation happens quicker.

Metabolism is one of the biggest places though. The bacteria would have to uptake so many different types of stuff that this could be problematic. Of course there is always iron metabolism, which can create energy and compensate for sunlight.




The one thing that I was thinking about is that this would be a one time thing... if we screw it up then the bacteria are going to pump the air with oxygen and crap up all the iron in the soil. Which unfortunately means the process we want to accelerate will decelerate with the presence of oxygen

-Koeng


Lets terraform today!

[url=http://www.terraformingforum.com]www.terraformingforum.com[/url]

Offline

#20 2023-03-08 15:40:37

Mars_B4_Moon
Member
Registered: 2006-03-23
Posts: 9,772

Re: Sending extremophiles to Mars

NASA discovery boosts hope of life on Mars

https://www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/273 … fe-on-mars

The Most Acidic Lake in the World Near Crest of Poás Volcano Proofs that There Can be Life on Mars

https://thecostaricanews.com/the-most-a … e-on-mars/

Offline

Board footer

Powered by FluxBB