We have been given the opportunity to collaborate with astrobiology researchers from the NASA Ames Research Center. We are so lucky!
The NASA Ames research team develops activities that are based around the study of the origins and evolution of stars, planetary systems, and life on Earth, Mars, and elsewhere.
The experiment we are participating in involves participants in the NASA Eclipse Ballooning project sending up samples of a certain bacteria into the stratosphere. Because the stratosphere has little oxygen and there is more radiation from the sun, it is a good representation of the Martian atmosphere. This experiment will help the researchers understand what happens to the bacteria when it has been in an extreme Mars-like environment.
The bacteria is called Paenibacillus xerothermodurans, which is a spore forming bacteria that was isolated from the NASA spacecraft assembly clean-rooms in the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The 29 teams that are participating each have their own bit of this same bacteria they will be attaching to their payloads, and the NASA Ames team will examine the bacteria after the launchers have been retrieved.
The whole experiment is a very cool idea, and we’re so excited to be a part of it. It’s going to be super fun! We’re looking forward to receiving our field kit from the NASA Ames team. Thank you for letting us participate!