How Microbes Could Help Colonize Mars Astrobiology Magazine

Tiny rock-eating microbes could mine precious extraterrestrial resources from Mars and pave the way for the first human colonists, but would take much longer to help transform the red planet via terraforming. One of the most promising planetary colonizers comes in the form of cyanobacteria. The ancient bacteria helped create a habitable Earth with oxygen at least 2.5 billion years ago, and have since colonized practically every possible environment while relying upon photosynthesis to convert sunlight into energy.
Cyanobacteria and other rock-dwelling microbes also have proven that they can survive the hard vacuum of space aboard facilities such as Europe’s BIOPAN exposure platform and the International Space Station’s EXPOSE platform. Only the harsh space radiation in low Earth-orbit presents a life-threatening problem for the hardy organisms.