On the Path to Colonizing Mars: Kombucha Bacteria Could Help

On the Path to Colonizing Mars: Kombucha Bacteria Could Help

In the future, there are plans for manned missions, and possibly even permanent colonies, on Mars. However, there are still several hurdles to overcome. One of the biggest problems is cosmic radiation, which is not effectively blocked by the thin atmosphere of the red planet. It is highly dangerous for humans to be exposed to this radiation for an extended period of time, as it can cause cell mutations or even cell death.

Another challenge is oxygen production, although experiments have shown that this is possible. The answer to both of these problems could lie in the bacteria used for fermenting kombucha. This was revealed by the experiment Expose-R2 conducted by the European Space Agency (ESA).

As part of the experiment, different bacterial cultures were exposed to cosmic radiation on the outer surface of the International Space Station for several months. The kombucha cultures showed a special resilience to the radiation from space. This was largely due to the bacteria’s ability to repair their DNA and resume cell division, as reported by the ESA.

The exact mechanism by which the bacteria achieve this is not yet fully understood. However, the ESA announcement mentions the sulA gene, which researchers suspect may play a role in the repair process. It stops cell division until DNA repair is completed.

In addition to their radiation resilience, the bacteria used for kombucha production are also interesting for researchers for another reason. They can be used to produce oxygen. „As they are capable of producing oxygen and functioning as biofactories, this biotechnology could significantly improve future space missions and the exploration of space by humans,“ explains ESA scientist Nicol Caplin.

Currently, living on Mars is not possible. However, recent discoveries made by the Mars rover suggest that this may not always have been the case.

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