On our current knowledge of extremophiles that do exist on our planet, what does the existence of...

Question:

On our current knowledge of extremophiles that do exist on our planet, what does the existence of life in such extreme environments say about the possibility of life on other planets? Please provide one specific example.

Extremophiles:

Extremophiles are organisms capable of surviving in harsh or extreme conditions. The classification of extremophiles is very diverse, and includes organisms surviving in high temperatures (thermophiles), acidic conditions (acidophiles), salty conditions (halophiles), and many more.

Answer and Explanation:

It is highly possible that life exists on other planets, and may be vastly different from what we observe on Earth. While no living organisms from outer space have been detected, Earth-bound microorganisms have shown remarkable abilities to survive outside the atmosphere. Extraterrestrial solar UV radiation was shown to have the greatest deleterious effects on microbial viability. Nevertheless, microbes such as lichens (Rhizocarpon geographicum and Xanthoria elegans) and bacteria (Bacillus subtilis) maintained viability up to a certain period of time when exposed to spatial environment, supporting the lithopanspermia hypothesis (the interplanetary transfer of microorganisms).

Reference:

Horneck, G., Klaus, D. M., & Mancinelli, R. L. (2010). Space microbiology. Microbiology and molecular biology reviews : MMBR, 74(1), 121?156. doi:10.1128/MMBR.00016-09


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Planetary Predictors of Extraterrestrial Life

from CLEP Natural Sciences: Study Guide & Test Prep

Chapter 9 / Lesson 15
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