This study assessed the intrapersonal and interpersonal functioning of a three-couple expedition group that included a 2 1/2-year-old child which was ice-locked on a boat in the High Arctic during a major portion of the expedition. Personality assessment indicated that team members were generally well adjusted, scoring relatively higher on well-being and achievement and relatively lower on stress reactivity. Weekly mood ratings showed that the group exhibited significantly higher positive than negative affect. Reported negative events were relatively most frequent at the beginning of the Arctic stay and toward the end of the darkness period and were lowest during the initial darkness interval. The period of darkness had both a salutary and negative impact. A highly important means of coping with stress was seeking emotional support from one's partner. Selection of couples with strong bonds with their partner appears to be one viable approach for crew selection for long-duration missions.
Exploration Class missions to Mars will require precautions against potential contamination by any native microorganisms that may be incidentally pathogenic to humans. While the results of NASA's Viking biology experiments of the 1970s have been generally interpreted as inconclusive for surface organisms, and attributed to active but nonbiological chemistries, the possibility of native surface life has never been ruled out completely. It is possible that, prior to the first human landing on Mars, robotic craft and sample return missions will provide enough data to know with certainty whether future human landing sites harbor extant life forms. If native life were found to exist, it would be problematic to determine whether any of its species might present a medical danger to astronauts. Therefore, it will become necessary to assess empirically the risk that the planet contains pathogens based on terrestrial examples of pathogenicity and to take a reasonably cautious approach to biohazard protection. A survey of terrestrial pathogens was conducted with special emphasis on those whose evolution has not depended on the presence of animal hosts. The history of the development and implementation of Apollo anti-contamination protocol and recommendations of the National Research Council's Space Studies Board regarding Mars were reviewed. Organisms can emerge in Nature in the absence of indigenous animal hosts and both infectious and non-infectious human pathogens are therefore theoretically possible on Mars. Although remote, the prospect of Martian surface life, together with the existence of a diversity of routes by which pathogenicity has emerged on Earth, suggests that the probability of human pathogens on Mars, while low, is not zero. Still, since the discovery and study of Martian life can have long-term benefits for humanity, the risk that Martian life might include pathogens should not be an obstacle to human exploration. As a precaution, it is recommended that EVA (extravehicular activity) suits be decontaminated when astronauts enter surface habitats upon returning from field activity and that biosafety protocols approximating laboratory BSL 2 be developed for astronauts working in laboratories on the Martian surface. Quarantine of astronauts and Martian materials arriving on Earth should also be part of a human mission to Mars, and this and the surface biosafety program should be integral to human expeditions from the earliest stages of the mission planning.
The characterization of any organic molecules on Mars is a top-priority objective for the ExoMars European Space Agency-Russian Federal Space Agency joint mission. The main instrument for organic analysis on the ExoMars rover is the Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer (MOMA). In preparation for the upcoming mission in 2018, different Mars analog samples are studied with MOMA and include samples collected during the Arctic Mars Analog Svalbard Expedition (AMASE) to Svalbard, Norway. In this paper, we present results obtained from two different Mars analog sites visited during AMASE11, Colletthøgda and Botniahalvøya. Measurements were performed on the samples during AMASE11 with a MOMA gas chromatograph (GC) prototype connected to a commercial mass spectrometer (MS) and later in home institutions with commercial pyrolysis-GCMS instruments. In addition, derivatization experiments were performed on the samples during AMASE11 and in the laboratory. Three different samples were studied from the Colletthøgda that included one evaporite and two carbonate-bearing samples. Only a single sample was studied from the Botniahalvøya site, a weathered basalt covered by a shiny surface consisting of manganese and iron oxides. Organic molecules were detected in all four samples and included aromatics, long-chained hydrocarbons, amino acids, nucleobases, sugars, and carboxylic acids. Both pyrolysis and derivatization indicated the presence of extinct biota by the detection of carboxylic acids in the samples from Colletthøgda, while the presence of amino acids, nucleobases, carboxylic acids, and sugars indicated an active biota in the sample from Botniahalvøya. The results obtained with the prototype flight model in the field coupled with repeat measurements with commercial instruments within the laboratory were reassuringly similar. This demonstrates the performance of the MOMA instrument and validates that the instrument will aid researchers in their efforts to answer fundamental questions regarding the speciation and possible source of organic content on Mars.
A study of the action of different physical factors on micro-organisms is necessary for a further development of exobiology. The action of temperature on crystalline preparations of catalase and peroxidase was studied by means of oscillographic polarography. A determination of the height of polarographic waves at the decrease of temperature from 20 degrees C to 0 degrees C has shown that structural elements of the peroxidase molecule connected with the enzymatic activity are more stable with the decrease of temperature cf. catalase. A relative resistance of the dehydrogenase activity in Az. vinelandii cells to high vacuum was found. Incubation of azotobacter cells under vacuum of 10(-9) mm Hg during 72 hr did not decrease the activity of alcohol and succinic dehydrogenase. Bac. cereus spores can be preserved from bactericidal UV action by thin films of chrome. The thickness of chrome film being 200-670 angstroms, spores are killed by a dose of 7.8 x 10(7) erg/cm2 at 253.7 microns wave length. Spores covered by chrome film thicker than 800 angstroms remain alive after this treatment. Investigations carried out with an 'Artificial Mars' camera led to the following results. The growth of Bac. megaterium on liquid growth media in this camera ceases as a result of UV rays killing all cells after 3 weeks. Untreated bacteria grow in the camera for a long time. Spore-forming bacteria isolated from the sand of the Kara-Kum Desert grow in ground limonite (with the addition of 2% garden soil) having maximum hygroscopic humidity (3.8%). Freezing and thawing (from -60 degrees C to +25 degrees C) corresponding to day temperature deviations on Mars, low pressure (P=10 mm Hg) and the composition of the atmosphere (CO2-50%, N2-40%, Ar-10%) do not influence the growth of xerophylic bacteria under study. Humidity is the main factor limiting the growth of micro-organisms under 'Artificial Mars' conditions. According to the further development of the microbiological meteorite analysis methods, samples of rocks and stone meteorites were sterilized, incubated in the desert or on a snow surface in the Arctic and after different times (from 100 days to 7 months), investigated. In all cases, microbes were found only on the sample surfaces, whereas 1 cm from the surface and in the central parts micro-organism were completely absent. Hence, microbiological analysis of central parts of meteorites fallen in the Arctic or during dry periods of the year in the desert can give reliable results.
The Siljan ring structure (368 +/- 1.1 Ma) is the largest known impact structure in Europe. It isa 65-km-wide, eroded, complex impact structure, displaying several structural units, including a central uplifted region surrounded by a ring-shaped depression. Associated with the impact crater are traces of a post-impact hydrothermal system indicated by precipitated and altered hydrothermal mineral assemblages. Precipitated hydrothermal minerals include quartz veins and breccia fillings associated with granitic rocks at the outer margin of the central uplift, and calcite, fluorite, galena, and sphalerite veins associated with Paleozoic carbonate rocks located outside the central uplift. Two-phase water/gas and oil/gas inclusions in calcite and fluorite display homogenization temperatures between 75 degrees C and 137 degrees C. With an estimated erosional unloading of approximately 1 km, the formation temperatures were probably not more than 10-15 degrees C higher. Fluid inclusion ice-melting temperatures indicate a very low salt content, reducing the probability that the mineralization was precipitated during the Caledonian Orogeny. Our findings suggest that large impacts induce low-temperature hydrothermal systems that may be habitats for thermophilic organisms. Large impact structures on Mars may therefore be suitable targets in the search for fossil thermophilic organisms.
Impact-generated lithologies have recently been identified as viable and important microbial habitats, especially within cold and arid regions such as the polar deserts on Earth. These unique habitats provide protection from environmental stressors, such as freeze-thaw events, desiccation, and UV radiation, and act to trap aerially deposited detritus within the fissures and pore spaces, providing necessary nutrients for endoliths. This study provides the first culture-independent analysis of the microbial community structure within impact-generated lithologies in a Mars analog environment, involving the analysis of 44,534 16S rRNA sequences from an assemblage of 21 rock samples that comprises three shock metamorphism categories. We find that species diversity increases (H?=?2.4-4.6) with exposure to higher shock pressures, which leads to the development of three distinct populations. In each population, Actinobacteria were the most abundant (41%, 65%, and 59%), and the dominant phototrophic taxa came from the Chloroflexi. Calculated porosity (a function of shock metamorphism) for these samples correlates (R(2)?=?0.62) with inverse Simpson indices, accounting for overlap in populations in the higher shock levels. The results of our study show that microbial diversity is tied to the amount of porosity in the target substrate (as a function of shock metamorphism), resulting in the formation of distinct microbial populations. Key Words: Microbial diversity-Endoliths-Impact melt-rocks-Mars-Astrobiology. Astrobiology 16, 775-786.
Methane trapped in the 3,053-m-deep Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 ice core provides an important record of millennial-scale climate change over the last 110,000 yr. However, at several depths in the lowest 90 m of the ice core, the methane concentration is up to an order of magnitude higher than at other depths. At those depths we have discovered methanogenic archaea, the in situ metabolism of which accounts for the excess methane. The total concentration of all types of microbes we measured with direct counts of Syto-23-stained cells tracks the excess of methanogens that we identified by their F420 autofluorescence and provides independent evidence for anomalous layers. The metabolic rate we estimated for microbes at those depths is consistent with the Arrhenius relation for rates found earlier for microbes imprisoned in rock, sediment, and ice. It is roughly the same as the rate of spontaneous macromolecular damage inferred from laboratory data, suggesting that microbes imprisoned in ice expend metabolic energy mainly to repair damage to DNA and amino acids rather than to grow. Equating the loss rate of methane recently discovered in the Martian atmosphere to the production rate by possible methanogens, we estimate that a possible Martian habitat would be at a temperature of approximately 0 degrees C and that the concentration, if uniformly distributed in a 10-m-thick layer, would be approximately 1 cell per ml.