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Space Science

ESA Conducts Mars Terraforming Experiments On ISS 181

geegel writes "Space is a hostile environment for living things, but small organisms on the Expose-E experiment unit outside Europe's Columbus ISS laboratory module have resisted the solar UV radiation, cosmic rays, vacuum and varying temperatures for 18 months. A certain lichen seems to be particularly happy in open space."
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ESA Conducts Mars Terraforming Experiments On ISS

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  • by Remus Shepherd ( 32833 ) <remus@panix.com> on Thursday February 04, 2010 @02:24PM (#31024964) Homepage

    Not that big a difference, and not in the way you think.

    The magnetosphere does nothing about UV radiation, which is the biggest short-term threat from the sun to living things. If you're above the ozone layer, you're getting almost full-strength illumination in UV.

    And although the Earth's magnetosphere diverts a lot of the solar wind, it does it in such a way that many high energy particles are trapped in the Van Allen belts, creating regions of near-Earth orbit that have much more particle radiation than the heliosphere. The solar wind has particles up to 100 eV; the inner Van Allen, which the ISS passes through, has energies up to 100 MeV.

    So no, it's not 'open space'. It's near Earth orbit, which in some respects is worse than deep space.

    Either way, it's a brutal test of endurance for any living thing.

  • by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @02:57PM (#31025346) Homepage

    Venus rotates on the order of "once per year". WHile this doesn't mean much with its current thick atmosphere, it's really, really not conductive to Earth-like enviroments. Youd would get variations between the harshest Antarctic night and Sahara heat with separation of 100 days between them. The atmosphere would freeze solid on the night side, with day side dominated by evaporation and completelly dry.

  • by holmstar ( 1388267 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @06:28PM (#31027948)
    Um... sorry to burst your bubble but nothing boils at absolute zero. And the ambient temperature of space is pretty warm, actually. (in terms of the temperature of the sparse distribution of particles out there)

    The reason you would freeze in space (besides boiling, which is an endothermic process) is because you radiate energy via infrared light faster than you acquire it via bumping into hot space particles.

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