Wind-Driven Saltation: An Overlooked Challenge for Life on Mars

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Wind-Driven Saltation : An Overlooked Challenge for Life on Mars. / Bak, E. N.; Larsen, M. G.; Jensen, S. K.; Nornberg, P.; Moeller, R.; Finster, K.

In: Astrobiology, Vol. 19, No. 4, 2019.

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Bak, E. N. ; Larsen, M. G. ; Jensen, S. K. ; Nornberg, P. ; Moeller, R. ; Finster, K. / Wind-Driven Saltation : An Overlooked Challenge for Life on Mars. In: Astrobiology. 2019 ; Vol. 19, No. 4.

Bibtex

@article{5b53eb0255724e3bb9bd4843d459b88b,
title = "Wind-Driven Saltation: An Overlooked Challenge for Life on Mars",
abstract = "Numerous studies have demonstrated that the martian surface environment is hostile to life because of its rough radiation climate and the reactive chemistry of the regolith. Physical processes such as erosion and transport of mineral particles by wind-driven saltation have hitherto not been considered as a life hazard. We report a series of experiments where bacterial endospores (spores of Bacillus subtilis) were exposed to a simulated saltating martian environment. We observed that 50{\%} of the spores that are known to be highly resistant to radiation and oxidizing chemicals were destroyed by saltation-mediated abrasion within one minute. Scanning electron micrographs show that the spores were not only damaged by abrasion but were eradicated during the saltation process. We suggest that abrasion mediated by wind-driven saltation should be included as a factor that defines the habitability of the martian surface environment. The process may efficiently protect the martian surface from forward contamination with terrestrial microbial life-forms. Abrasion mediated by wind-driven saltation should also be considered as a major challenge to indigenous martian surface life if it exists/existed.",
keywords = "Habitability, Erosion, Spores, Forward contamination, Saltation, Microorganisms, BACILLUS-SUBTILIS SPORES, ASSEMBLY CLEAN ROOMS, MARTIAN DUST DEVILS, DEINOCOCCUS-RADIODURANS, SPACECRAFT SURFACES, OXIDANT ENHANCEMENT, IONIZING-RADIATION, HYDROGEN-PEROXIDE, UV-RADIATION, RESISTANCE",
author = "Bak, {E. N.} and Larsen, {M. G.} and Jensen, {S. K.} and P. Nornberg and R. Moeller and K. Finster",
year = "2019",
doi = "10.1089/ast.2018.1856",
language = "English",
volume = "19",
journal = "Astrobiology",
issn = "1531-1074",
publisher = "Mary AnnLiebert, Inc. Publishers",
number = "4",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Wind-Driven Saltation

T2 - An Overlooked Challenge for Life on Mars

AU - Bak, E. N.

AU - Larsen, M. G.

AU - Jensen, S. K.

AU - Nornberg, P.

AU - Moeller, R.

AU - Finster, K.

PY - 2019

Y1 - 2019

N2 - Numerous studies have demonstrated that the martian surface environment is hostile to life because of its rough radiation climate and the reactive chemistry of the regolith. Physical processes such as erosion and transport of mineral particles by wind-driven saltation have hitherto not been considered as a life hazard. We report a series of experiments where bacterial endospores (spores of Bacillus subtilis) were exposed to a simulated saltating martian environment. We observed that 50% of the spores that are known to be highly resistant to radiation and oxidizing chemicals were destroyed by saltation-mediated abrasion within one minute. Scanning electron micrographs show that the spores were not only damaged by abrasion but were eradicated during the saltation process. We suggest that abrasion mediated by wind-driven saltation should be included as a factor that defines the habitability of the martian surface environment. The process may efficiently protect the martian surface from forward contamination with terrestrial microbial life-forms. Abrasion mediated by wind-driven saltation should also be considered as a major challenge to indigenous martian surface life if it exists/existed.

AB - Numerous studies have demonstrated that the martian surface environment is hostile to life because of its rough radiation climate and the reactive chemistry of the regolith. Physical processes such as erosion and transport of mineral particles by wind-driven saltation have hitherto not been considered as a life hazard. We report a series of experiments where bacterial endospores (spores of Bacillus subtilis) were exposed to a simulated saltating martian environment. We observed that 50% of the spores that are known to be highly resistant to radiation and oxidizing chemicals were destroyed by saltation-mediated abrasion within one minute. Scanning electron micrographs show that the spores were not only damaged by abrasion but were eradicated during the saltation process. We suggest that abrasion mediated by wind-driven saltation should be included as a factor that defines the habitability of the martian surface environment. The process may efficiently protect the martian surface from forward contamination with terrestrial microbial life-forms. Abrasion mediated by wind-driven saltation should also be considered as a major challenge to indigenous martian surface life if it exists/existed.

KW - Habitability

KW - Erosion

KW - Spores

KW - Forward contamination

KW - Saltation

KW - Microorganisms

KW - BACILLUS-SUBTILIS SPORES

KW - ASSEMBLY CLEAN ROOMS

KW - MARTIAN DUST DEVILS

KW - DEINOCOCCUS-RADIODURANS

KW - SPACECRAFT SURFACES

KW - OXIDANT ENHANCEMENT

KW - IONIZING-RADIATION

KW - HYDROGEN-PEROXIDE

KW - UV-RADIATION

KW - RESISTANCE

U2 - 10.1089/ast.2018.1856

DO - 10.1089/ast.2018.1856

M3 - Journal article

VL - 19

JO - Astrobiology

JF - Astrobiology

SN - 1531-1074

IS - 4

ER -