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Survival of Radioresistant Bacteria on Europa’s Surface after Pulse Ejection of Subsurface Ocean Water

1
Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg 194021, Russia
2
Department of Soil Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow 119991, Russia
3
Space Research Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow 117997, Russia
4
Peter the Great St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University, St. Petersburg 194021, Russia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Geosciences 2019, 9(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9010009
Received: 26 November 2018 / Revised: 19 December 2018 / Accepted: 21 December 2018 / Published: 25 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Planetary Evolution and Search for Life on Habitable Planets)
We briefly present preliminary results of our study of the radioresistant bacteria in a low temperature and pressure and high-radiation environment and hypothesize the ability of microorganisms to survive extraterrestrial high-radiation environments, such as the icy surface of Jupiter’s moon, Europa. In this study, samples containing a strain of Deinococcus radiodurans VKM B-1422T embedded into a simulated version of Europa’s ice were put under extreme environmental (−130 °C, 0.01 mbar) and radiation conditions using a specially designed experimental vacuum chamber. The samples were irradiated with 5, 10, 50, and 100 kGy doses and subsequently studied for residual viable cells. We estimate the limit of the accumulated dose that viable cells in those conditions could withstand at 50 kGy. Combining our numerical modelling of the accumulated dose in ice with observations of water eruption events on Europa, we hypothesize that in the case of such events, it is possible that putative extraterrestrial organisms might retain viability in a dormant state for up to 10,000 years, and could be sampled and studied by future probe missions. View Full-Text
Keywords: astrobiology; Europa; ionizing radiation; microorganisms; radioresistance; accelerated electrons astrobiology; Europa; ionizing radiation; microorganisms; radioresistance; accelerated electrons
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Pavlov, A.; Cheptsov, V.; Tsurkov, D.; Lomasov, V.; Frolov, D.; Vasiliev, G. Survival of Radioresistant Bacteria on Europa’s Surface after Pulse Ejection of Subsurface Ocean Water. Geosciences 2019, 9, 9.

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