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The experiment, designed by Professor John Parnell from the University of Aberdeen, involves bolting a Scottish rock to the outside of an ESA research spacecraft. When the Foton M3 mission launches on Friday, September 14th, microbes in the rock will enjoy the acceleration of liftoff, 12 days of microgravity and vacuum, and then re-entry through the Earth’s atmosphere
The objective behind this is to look at the rock’s behaviour when it is exposed during re-entry through the Earth’s atmosphere - when temperatures are extreme. This will tell us something about the likelihood of life being transferred between planets on meteorites.
“The Orkney rock is a very robust material but it will be interesting to see if organic matter in the rock is robust enough to survive the harsh conditions endured during re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.”
This experiment will help discover if there’s anything to this idea. Bacteria might just be hardy enough to survive the complete journey from planet to planet