Geomicrobiology beyond Earth: microbe–mineral interactions in space exploration and settlement

Cockell, Charles S. (2010). Geomicrobiology beyond Earth: microbe–mineral interactions in space exploration and settlement. Trends in Microbiology, 18(7) pp. 308–314.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tim.2010.03.005

Abstract

Geomicrobiology investigates the interactions of microorganisms with geological substrates, and this branch of microbiology has enormous potential in the exploration and settlement of space. Microorganisms can be used to extract useful elements from extraterrestrial materials for industrial processes or for use as nutrients in life support systems. In addition, microorganisms could be used to create soil from lunar and Martian rocks. Furthermore, understanding the interactions of microorganisms with rocks is essential for identifying mineral biomarkers to be used in the search for life on other planetary bodies. Increasing space exploration activities make geomicrobiology an important applied science beyond Earth.

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