IMAGE: NICK HOBGOOD, WIKIMEDIAThis past Monday, the Endeavor space shuttle was launched into space carrying six astronauts, brand new equipment for studying the universe and... a bobtail squid and a pack of extremophile bacteria. According to Wired, the unlikely science experiment is part of the The Planetary Society's Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment (LIFE), which aims to test how well the extremophiles can survive the low-oxygen, low-pressure, and high-radiation conditions of outer space. The project also seeks to confirm or debunk the hypothesis that life on Earth came from the surface of other planets via meteorites. And as for the squid, researchers are interested in monitoring the beneficial bacteria hitching a ride in the cephalopod, in light of previous research that has found that bacteria turn more virulent when exposed to the extreme conditions of outer space.
Two previously overlooked archaeal strains fill an evolutionary gap for microbes.