Tue. November 10th, 2020, 16.00 hours
Biomining and Biosignatures: Exploring microbial interactions with rocks on the International Space Station
– Charles Cockell, professor of Astrobiology, University of Edinburgh
Microbes are used for many industrial processes on Earth and their remains and chemical activities are the basis of life detection efforts on planetary bodies like Mars. I will describe and present results from our recent BioRock experiment on board the International Space Station in which we demonstrated for the first time biomining in space. We were able to demonstrate biologically-enhanced rare earth element and vanadium extraction from basalt, an abundant constituent of the lunar and Martian surface in microgravity and simulated Martian gravity, with implications for bioindustrial processes to support a human presence beyond Earth and life detection. We were able to study biofilm formation and microbial growth under altered gravity conditions. This talk will not only discuss scientific results, but could be useful for those planning their own space experiments.
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