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The toughest life on Earth

You can freeze it, thaw it, vacuum dry it and expose it to radiation but still life survives. ESA's research on the International Space Station is giving credibility to theories that life came from outer space - as well as helping to create better suncreams.
In 2008 scientists sent the suitcase-sized Expose-E experiment package to the Space Station filled with organic compounds and living organisms to test their reaction to outer space. When astronauts venture on a spacewalk, hours are spent preparing protective suits to survive the hostile conditions. No effort was made to protect the bacteria, seeds, lichen and algae attached to the outside of the Space Station, however.

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Xanthoria elegan
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Latching onto Lichen
12/05/05

Bacteria can often survive the harsh conditions of space, and their toughness and adaptability have made them key candidates for the transfer of life between planets. But in a recent study by European scientists, lichen survived a trip in space even better than bacteria do.
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L

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Expose-E experiment unit
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Space is a hostile environment for living things, but small organisms on the Expose-E experiment unit outside Europes Columbus ISS laboratory module have resisted the solar UV radiation, cosmic rays, vacuum and varying temperatures for 18 months. A certain lichen, Xanthoria elegans, seems to be particularly happy in open space.

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