Can life be transported beyond its planet of origin, and adapted to survive and thrive in extreme environments in space, such as Mars or the Moon? Can microorganisms be useful for life support and in situ resource utilization in a sustained space exploration? The answer to these questions is not simple because the conditions in space make survival of microorganisms difficult. They include UV and cosmic radiation, microgravity, temperature, pressure and low levels of nutrients. The focus will be on cyanobacteria as model organisms because of their antiquity on earth, metabolic diversity, resilience to adverse conditions, ability to efficiently produce oxygen and hydrogen, and the existence of advanced capabilities for their genetic manipulation. I will discuss scientific opportunities and challenges related to establishing cyanobacteria in space, and in particular in a lunar environment.
Our General Interest Seminars are an opportunity for distinguished speakers to present new research in physics and related areas. The material presented is suitable for undergraduate level upwards and all members of the School are welcome to attend..