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Adv Space Res. 1994 Oct;14(10):41-5.

Long-term survival of bacterial spores in space.

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DLR, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Biophysics Division, Koln, Germany.


On board of the NASA Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF), spores of Bacillus subtilis in monolayers (10(6)/sample) or multilayers (10(8)/sample) were exposed to the space environment for nearly six years and their survival was analyzed after retrieval. The response to space parameters, such as vacuum (10(-6) Pa), solar electromagnetic radiation up to the highly energetic vacuum-ultraviolet range (10(9) J/m2) and/or cosmic radiation (4.8 Gy), was studied and compared to the results of a simultaneously running ground control experiment. If shielded against solar ultraviolet (UV)-radiation, up to 80 % of spores in multilayers survive in space. Solar UV-radiation, being the most deleterious parameter of space, reduces survival by 4 orders of magnitude or more. However, up to 10(4) viable spores were still recovered, even in completely unprotected samples. Substances, such as glucose or buffer salts serve as chemical protectants. With this 6 year study in space, experimental data are provided to the discussion on the likelihood of "Panspermia".

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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