Monday, March 06, 2006

 

Microbes survived the Columbia shuttle disaster

"PANSPERMIA, the idea that life on Earth was seeded by microbes from space, has had a boost from an unlikely source: the Columbia space shuttle, which broke apart on re-entry in February 2003.

Robert McLean at Texas State University in San Marcos had sent three strains of bacteria on the doomed Columbia sealed in a box to see how weightlessness would affect their growth. When the disaster happened, he assumed that the box had been destroyed. A few days later, however, a colleague spotted the charred container in a newspaper photograph of shuttle debris.

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