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: closed (30 November 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Yoko Kebukawa
Website
Guest Editor
Division of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Yokohama National University, Yokohama, Kanagawa 240-8501, Japan
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 monthly 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 1400 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.

Keywords

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

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Circumnutation and Growth of Inflorescence Stems of Arabidopsis thaliana in Response to Microgravity under Different Photoperiod Conditions
Life 2020, 10(3), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10030026 - 18 Mar 2020
Abstract
Circumnutation is a periodic growth movement, which is an important physiological mechanism of plants to adapt to their growth environments. Gravity and photoperiod are two key environmental factors in regulating the circumnutation of plants, but the coordination mechanism between them is still unknown. [...] Read more.
Circumnutation is a periodic growth movement, which is an important physiological mechanism of plants to adapt to their growth environments. Gravity and photoperiod are two key environmental factors in regulating the circumnutation of plants, but the coordination mechanism between them is still unknown. In this study, the circumnutation of Arabidopsis thaliana inflorescence stems was investigated on board the Chinese recoverable satellite SJ-10 and 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 16:8 h, and a short-day (SD) light: dark cycle of 8:16 h]. The plant growth and movements were followed by two charge-coupled device (CCD) cameras. The parameter revealed a daily (24 h) modulation on both TG-2 and SJ-10, under both the LD and the SD conditions. The inhibition of circumnutation was more apparent by microgravity under the SD in comparison with that under the LD condition, suggesting the synergistic effects of the combined microgravity and photoperiod on the circumnutation in space. In addition, an infradian rhythm (ca. 21 days long) on the TG-2 was also observed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Space Experiments for Astrobiology)
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Open AccessArticle
Nanosatellites for Biology in Space: In Situ Measurement of Bacillus subtilis Spore Germination and Growth after 6 Months in Low Earth Orbit on the O/OREOS Mission
Life 2020, 10(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10010001 - 29 Dec 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
We report here complete 6-month results from the orbiting Space Environment Survivability of Living Organisms (SESLO) experiment. The world’s first and only long-duration live-biology cubesat experiment, SESLO was executed by one of two 10-cm cube-format payloads aboard the 5.5-kg O/OREOS (Organism/Organic Exposure to [...] Read more.
We report here complete 6-month results from the orbiting Space Environment Survivability of Living Organisms (SESLO) experiment. The world’s first and only long-duration live-biology cubesat experiment, SESLO was executed by one of two 10-cm cube-format payloads aboard the 5.5-kg O/OREOS (Organism/Organic Exposure to Orbital Stresses) free-flying nanosatellite, which launched to a 72°-inclination, 650-km Earth orbit in 2010. The SESLO experiment measured the long-term survival, germination, metabolic, and growth responses of Bacillus subtilis spores exposed to microgravity and ionizing radiation including heavy-ion bombardment. A pair of radiation dosimeters (RadFETs, i.e., radiation-sensitive field-effect transistors) within the SESLO payload provided an in-situ dose rate estimate of 6–7.6 mGy/day throughout the mission. Microwells containing samples of dried spores of a wild-type B. subtilis strain and a radiation-sensitive mutant deficient in Non-Homologoous End Joining (NHEJ) were rehydrated after 14, 91, and 181 days in space with nutrient medium containing with the redox dye alamarBlue (aB), which changes color upon reaction with cellular metabolites. Three-color transmitted light intensity measurements of all microwells were telemetered to Earth within days of each 24-hour growth experiment. At 14 and 91 days, spaceflight samples germinated, grew, and metabolized significantly more slowly than matching ground-control samples, as measured both by aB reduction and optical density changes; these rate differences notwithstanding, the final optical density attained was the same in both flight and ground samples. After 181 days in space, spore germination and growth appeared hindered and abnormal. We attribute the differences not to an effect of the space environment per se, as both spaceflight and ground-control samples exhibited the same behavior, but to a pair of ~15-day thermal excursions, after the 91-day measurement and before the 181-day experiment, that peaked above 46 °C in the SESLO payload. Because the payload hardware operated nominally at 181 days, the growth issues point to heat damage, most likely to component(s) of the growth medium (RPMI 1640 containing aB) or to biocompatibility issues caused by heat-accelerated outgassing or leaching of harmful compounds from components of the SESLO hardware and electronics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Space Experiments for Astrobiology)
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Open AccessArticle
Wheat Space Odyssey: “From Seed to Seed”. Kernel Morphology
Life 2019, 9(4), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/life9040081 - 25 Oct 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The long-term autonomous existence of man in extraterrestrial conditions is associated with the need to cultivate plants—the only affordable and effective means for both providing oxygen and CO2 utilization, and providing one of the most habitual and energetically valuable products: plant food. [...] Read more.
The long-term autonomous existence of man in extraterrestrial conditions is associated with the need to cultivate plants—the only affordable and effective means for both providing oxygen and CO2 utilization, and providing one of the most habitual and energetically valuable products: plant food. In this study, we analyzed the results of the space odyssey of wheat and compared the morphological features of parental grains harvested from soil grown wheat plants, the grains obtained from plants grown in a specialized device for plant cultivation—the “Lada” space greenhouses during space flight in the ISS, and the grains obtained from plants in the same device on Earth. The seeds obtained under various conditions were studied using scanning electron microscopy. We studied the mutual location of the surface layers of the kernel cover tissues, the structural features of the tube and cross cells of the fruit coat (pericarp), and the birsh hairs of the kernels. It was found that the grains obtained under wheat plants cultivation on board of the ISS in near space had some specific differences from the parental, original grains, and the grains obtained from plants grown in the “Lada” greenhouse in ground conditions. These changes were manifested in a shortening of the birsh hairs, and a change in the size and relative arrangement of the cells of the kernel coat. We suggest that such changes are a manifestation of the sensitivity of the cytoskeleton reorganization systems and water exchange to the influence of particular physical conditions of space flight (microgravity, increased doses of radiation, etc.). Thus, the revealed changes did not hinder the wheat grains production “from seed to seed”, which allows the cultivation of this crop in stable life support systems in near earth orbit. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Space Experiments for Astrobiology)
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