Laboratory Investigations of the Survivability of Bacteria in Hypervelocity Impacts

Burchell, Mark J. and Shrine, Nick R.G. and Mann, J. and Bunch, Alan William and Brandao, Pedro F. B. and Zarnecki, John C. and Galloway, James A. (2001) Laboratory Investigations of the Survivability of Bacteria in Hypervelocity Impacts. Advances in Space Research, 28 (4). pp. 707-712. ISSN 0273-1177 . (The full text of this publication is not available from this repository)

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Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0273-1177(01)00319-2

Abstract

It is now well established that material naturally moves around the Solar System, even from planetary surface to planetary surface. Accordingly, the idea that life is distributed throughout space and did not necessarily originate on the Earth but migrated here from elsewhere (Panspermia) is increasingly deemed worthy of consideration. If life arrived at the Earth from space, its relative speed will typically be of order many km s(-1), and the resulting collision with the Earth and its atmosphere will be in the hypervelocity regime. A mechanism for the bacteria to survive such an impact is required. Therefore a programme of hypervelocity impacts in the laboratory at (4.5 +/- 0.6) km s(-1) was carried out using bacteria (Rhodococcus) laden projectiles. After impacts on a variety of target materials (rock, glass and metal) attempts were made to culture Rhodococcus from the surface of the resulting craters and also from the target material ejected during crater formation. Control shots with clean projectiles yielded no evidence for Rhodococcus growth from any crater surface or ejecta. When projectiles doped with Rhodococcus were used no impact crater surface yielded colonies of Rhodococcus. However, for four shots of bacteria into rock (two on chalk and two on granite) the ejecta was afterwards found to give colonies of Rhodococcus. This was not true for shots onto glass. In addition, shots into aerogel (density 96 kg m(-3)) were also carried out (two with clean projectiles and two with projectiles with Rhodococcus). This crudely simulated aero-capture in a planetary atmosphere. No evidence for Rhodococcus growth was found from the projectiles captured in the aerogel from any of the four shots. (C) 2001 COSPAR. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science
Divisions: Faculties > Science Technology and Medical Studies > School of Physical Sciences > Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Sciences
Faculties > Science Technology and Medical Studies > School of Physical Sciences
Depositing User: Mark Burchell
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2008 17:59
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2014 14:31
Resource URI: http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/5039 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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