May 20th, 2005

Traces Of Stowaway Earth Algae Could Survive On Mars, Study Finds University of Florida

Some hardy Earth microbes could survive long enough on Mars to complicate the search for alien life, according to a new study co-authored by University of Florida researchers.
Though scientists looking for life on Mars worry about contamination from stowaway spores clinging to spacecraft, the inhospitable Martian environment is actually an effective sterilizing agent: The intense ultraviolet rays that bombard the Martian surface are quickly fatal to most Earth microbes. However, the new study shows that at least one tough Earth species, a type of blue-green algae called Chroococcidiopsis, could live just long enough to leave a biological trace in the Martian soil

November 30th, 2004

Researchers Build Mars Simulator To Put Interplanetary Greenhouses To The Test University of Florida

Ray Bucklin can remember when “Mars jars” were sprouting up in laboratories around the country. In the years after the Viking probes landed on the surface of Mars, many scientists spent their spare time building bottle-like devices that replicated the thin air or the surface of the Red Planet

December 22nd, 2003

UF Researchers Preparing To Send Life To Mars University of Florida

While the rest of the world waits to see whether one European Beagle 2 probe makes a successful Christmas-morning touchdown on Mars – followed by the American Mars Spirit and Mars Opportunity probes on Jan. 3 and Jan. 24 — researchers at the University of Florida are planning for future missions that could send life to Earth’s nearest planetary neighbor. UF researchers are working on greenhouses that could allow plants to be grown on the Martian surface. If a manned base is ever established on Mars, such greenhouses could be vital in providing oxygen, water and food for the astronauts who live there. And in the shorter term, plants could be sent on an unmanned space probe to test the properties of Martian soil.

April 26th, 2001

Genetically Modified Earth Plants Will Glow From Mars University of Florida

In what reads like a story from a 1950s science fiction magazine, a team of University of Florida scientists has genetically modified a tiny plant to send reports back from Mars in a most unworldly way: by emitting an eerie, fluorescent glow. If all goes as planned, 10 varieties of the plant could be on their way to the Red Planet as part of a $300 million mission scheduled for 2007. The plant experiment, which is funded by $290,000 from NASA’s Human Exploration and Development in Space program, may be a first step toward making Mars habitable for humans, said Rob Ferl, assistant director of the Biotechnology Program at UF

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