Special Issue "Space Experiments for Astrobiology"

A special issue of Life (ISSN 2075-1729). This special issue belongs to the section "Astrobiology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2019.

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Yoko Kebukawa

Division of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Yokohama National University, Japan
Website | E-Mail
Interests: organic geochemistry; cosmochemistry; analytical chemistry

Special Issue Information

Space environments provide us with ideal places for astrobiology experiments in terms of evolution of prebiotic molecules, resistance of life, and their possible transportations. Various experiments have been conducted and are currently ongoing at the International Space Station (ISS), such as the EXPOSE and Tanpopo missions, to understand the evolution of organic matter in space and the effects of exposure to the space environments of microbes. For example, Tanpopo missions include capture and exposure of microbes in space, collection and organic analysis of micrometeoroids, and exposure of organic compounds in space. The final samples from Tanpopo 1 have recently arrived, and Tanpopo 2 will be launched soon.

The objective of this Special Issue is to bring together what we have learned from space experiments and related studies. We encourage submissions on original results and reviews from experiments at the stratosphere to outer space using high-altitude balloons, ISS, nanosatellites, and cubesats, as well as related grand-based experiments.

Dr. Yoko Kebukawa
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Life is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • space experiments
  • international space station
  • evolution of organic matter
  • prebiotic molecules
  • prebiotic chemistry
  • microorganisms
  • astrobiology
  • astrochemistry

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Type of the paper: Article
Tentative Title: Circumnutations and Growth of Inflorescence Stems of Arabidopsis thaliana in Response to Microgravity in Space under Different Photoperiod Conditions
Authors: Yuan Yuan Wu, Lihua Wang, Hui Qiong Zheng
Affiliations: Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, 200032, China
Abstract: Circumnutation is a periodic growth movement, which is one of important physiological mechanism of plant to adapt to the territorial environments. Gravity and photoperiod have been considered as two key evironmental factors in regulating circumnutation of plants, but coordination mechanism between them is still unknown. In this study, Circumnutations of Arabidopsis thaliana inflorescence stems were investigated at a short-time scale on board the recoverable satellite SJ-10 and at large-time scale on board the Chinese spacelab TG-2. Plants were cultivated in a special plant culture chamber under two photoperiod conditions [a long-day (LD) light:dark cycle of 16:8h and a short-day (SD) light : dark cycle of 8:16h]. The plant growth and movements were followed by tow CCD cameras. The amplitude of circumnutation were examined. The parameter revealed a daily (24h) modulation on both TG-2 and SJ-10, under both LD and SD. The inhibition of circumnutation was more apparently by microgravity under the SD in comparison with those under the LD conditions, suggesting that composition effects of photoperiod and microgravity on the circumnuation. In addition, Circumnutation data for the main stem on TG-2 in LD light showed a doubling of the amplitude and a longer period at 1g control condition than in microgravity. The infradian (ca. 14 days long) harmonics of amplitude were specially observed in plants grown in space.

Type of the paper: Article
Tentative title: Uracile in space: data from the photochemistry on Space Station (PSS) experiment
Authors: Stalport, Rouquette, Cottin, Raulin, Szopa, Coll
Affiliations: Laboratoire Interuniversitaire des Systèmes Atmosphériques (LISA), UMR CNRS 7583, Université Paris Est Créteil et Université de Paris, Institut Pierre Simon Laplace, France
Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales (LATMOS), UMR CNRS 8190, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Université Versailles St-Quentin, 4 place Jussieu, 75005 Paris cedex, France
Abstract: The search for organic molecules at the surface of Mars is a top priority of the Mars Science Laboratory (NASA) and ExoMars 2020 (ESA) space missions. Their main goal is to search for past and/or present molecular compounds related to a potential prebiotic chemistry and/or a biological activity on the red planet. A key step to interpret their data is to characterize the preservation or the evolution of organic matter in the martian environmental conditions. Several laboratory experiments have been developed especially concerning the influence of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. However the experimental UV sources do not perfectly reproduce the solar UV radiation reaching the surface of Mars. For this reason, the International Space Station (ISS) can be advantageously used to expose the same samples studied in the laboratory to UV radiation representative of Mars conditions. Those laboratory simulations can be completed by experiments in Low Earth Orbit outside ISS. Our study was part of the Photochemistry on Space Station experiment onboard the EXPOSE R2 facility that was kept outside ISS from October 2014 to February 2016. Uracil was exposed to solar UV. The total duration of exposure to UV radiations is estimated to be around 1300 hours. Each sample was characterized prior and after the flight by Fourier Transform InfraRed (FTIR) spectroscopy. These measurements showed that all exposed samples exposed evolved and produced more photostable organic compounds. The results are very similar to laboratory data and highlighted that photoproducts coulds be metastable and cumulate at the surface of Mars.


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