The First Interstellar Astronauts Will Not Be Human

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Metabolic rate (MR) and mass for various groups of living organisms. Despite the vast diversity of species, we observe a near universal energy requirement per unit mass of tissue. This generalization excludes species capable of cryptobiosis (such as tardigrades, brine shrimp, and Chironomidae), which exhibit virtually no metabolic activity while in a state of suspended animation, making them better suited for interstellar flight

Our ability to explore the cosmos by direct contact has been limited to a small number of lunar and interplanetary missions. However, the NASA Starlight program points a path forward to send small, relativistic spacecraft far outside our solar system via standoff directed-energy propulsion. These miniaturized spacecraft are capable of robotic exploration but can also transport seeds and organisms, marking a profound change in our ability to both characterize and expand the reach of known life. Here we explore the biological and technological challenges of interstellar space biology, focusing on radiation-tolerant microorganisms capable of cryptobiosis. Additionally, we discuss planetary protection concerns and other ethical considerations of sending life to the stars….

Read more at Lantin et al


Written by physicsgg

October 28, 2021 at 5:13 pm


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