Add to favorite
 
123
Subscribe to our Newsletters Subscribe to our Newsletters Get Daily Updates RSS


Glaciers a Model for Possible Life Transfer in Outer Space
before March 9, 2006

 

Until recently the ice cover of the Antarctic Continent was considered to be totally lifeless. All living beings are localized in the coastal zone of the Antarctica, and nothing alive dwells the centre of the dome, where winter frosts reach 80 degrees below zero and strong permanent winds blow. This is what the scientists have thought, until 15 years ago S.S. Abyzov (PhD (biology) from RAS Institute of Microbiology) has found microorganisms inside Antarctic ice – bacteria, yeasts and fungi. They appeared to be buried deep inside ice mass – 2500 m. The age of this ice is not less than 300 thousand years. Microorganisms are there under anabiosis, but some of them can be reanimated when put in a growth medium.
 

At that time Mr. Abyzov has detected the ability of microorganisms to maintain super-long-term anabiosis for the first time, but as a discovery this fact has been registered only in 1995. Mr. Abyzov’s group of scientists continues its research in the Antarctica and has recently received sensational results from the 3500 m depth.
 

The scientists collect samples from the well on the “Vostok” station, which is expected to pierce the whole Antarctic ice cover. The microbiologists have asked experts from Saint Petersburg Institute for Mountain Research to design a special microbiological drilling unit. It cuts the core out of an ice pillar taken from the well, then the core melts over the flask. Sterility is very important here, not a single microorganism should get into the flask from outside. Then the flasks are sealed and taken to the laboratory for analysis. Melt water partly passes through the bacterial filters, then these filters are dyed and microorganisms are counted. This way the scientists have found out that one ml of melt water contains several thousand of microbial cells.
 

What are these microbes? They are bacteria, diatomic algae, yeasts and fungi. The researches have also isolated a new species of actinomycetes (bacteria that look like fungi) and named it “antarctic”. Ancient microbial flora generally consists of the same microorganisms, existing nowadays. Microbial cells, extracted from ice, were plated on a growth medium. Some of them have started growing and dividing, waking from a thousand year sleep. The scientists have also used the precise tracer technique. They added C14 labeled hydrolyzed protein solution to the samples. Only living cells consume radioactive carbon. The amount of them decreases with depth. Viable forms appeared to exist even deeper than 3500 m.
 

Now the scientists have reached the depth of 3611 m. The well has stopped above the subglacial lake whose age is about one million years. Glaciologists have found out that it never totally freezes, only its surface layers turn to ice. Well drilling has been stopped until an international committee solves the issue of lake’s ecological safety. Microbiologists have taken their last samples from the bottom ice layers, which were formed from lake waters. Some microorganisms were found in these samples – several hundred cells per one ml of melt glacial water. These samples are still analyzed but, according to preliminary data, they are inhabited by various fungi and bacteria.
 

The scientists have found an interesting pattern while comparing their data with data of glaciologists. The amount of microorganisms and dust particles is different in different ice layers. When they matched the changes’ curve with our planet climate conditions, the largest amount of dust and microbes appeared to be during global cooling periods. The scientists explain this fact, saying that when the climate gets colder, the air becomes dryer, World ocean shelf partly exposes to the winds, which grow stronger and bring lots of micro-material to the forming glacier. But temperature drop is fatal for microorganisms; such layers almost do not contain living cells.
 

So microorganisms are able to survive in ice for hundreds thousand of years. This discovery is very interesting for extraterrestrial life issue research. According to a hypothesis of Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius, suggested as early as in the beginning of XXth century, the living matter is immortal and travels from planet to planet in the form of fetuses. Modern science denies this hypothesis, but it looks quite reasonable in view of new data. How do the fetuses travel? They can use ice for this purpose. It can protect living cells from tough cosmic rays and dryness. And low temperatures help cells to be dormant during their long space journey for hundreds thousands of years.
 

Mr. Abyzov thinks that the Antarctic ice cover can be a model for extraterrestrial life probability research and life transfer in outer space. Together with American colleagues the scientist plans to explore Mars ice caps, and comet ice nuclei and Jupiter satellite – Europe – studies are his future projects.
 


Tags: Russian Scientists     

Next Previous

You might also find interesting:

3D-printer By Skolkovo Russia Plans Two Manned Flights to the Moon Annually Space is the Cradle of Life Environmental Inspection from Outer Space Another Pest Living in Animal Flesh









Comment on our site


RSS   twitter      submit



TAGS:
Moscow  Perm  Su-35  Elections 2012  Samara  ROSCOSMOS  Russian Railwys  Moscow International Marathon   Russian judges  Jan Svankmajer  Russian business  Cars  Exhibitions in Moscow  weather  Nikolai Garin-Mikhailovsky  Darwin Museum  cloning  Russian science  migration rules in Russia  Sculpture  Russian economy  Awards  Internet memes  Russian tourism  Russian Breakfast  Earth Hour  Andrei Kirilenko  Festival of Light  Russian Cinema  Alexei German  Tula Region  Russian energy companies   St. Petersburg  Stavropol Territory  contemporary art  Alexander Lebedev  Russian religion  Fyodor Shalyapin  Russian army  the Urals region  Night of Arts  Classical Music  Moscow Region  Joseph Stalin  Gusinoozyorsk  Arzamas  ENEA  Russian Astronauts  Russian scientists  Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia 


Travel Blogs
Top Traveling Sites