LONDON, Aug. 23 (UPI) — Bacteria from cliffs on the south coast of England have proven themselves hardy astronauts, surviving a year and a half as space travelers, researchers say.
Taken from the cliffs near the small fishing village of Beer in Devon, the bacteria were placed on the outside of the International Space Station to see how they would deal with harsh conditions in Earth orbit, the BBC reported.
The bacteria were sent up still sitting on, and in, small chunks of cliff rock. They were placed in experiment boxes on the outside of the station, exposed to the vacuum of space.
Scientists inspecting the bugs after a year and a half exposure to extreme ultraviolet light, cosmic rays and dramatic shifts in temperature say many were still alive.
The survivors, brought back to Earth, are thriving in a laboratory at the Open University in Milton Keynes, the BBC reported.
The experiment was intended to find microbes that could be useful to future astronauts who leave Earth orbit to explore the rest of the solar system.
“It has been proposed that bacteria could be used in life-support systems to recycle everything,” OU researcher Karen Olsson-Francis said.
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