The Microbes in Atmosphere for Radiation, Survival and Biological Outcomes Experiment, or MARSBOx, in flight in September 2019. Its door bearing a NASA logo is rotated open, exposing samples of nine different types of microorganisms to the extreme environmental conditions of the stratosphere.
Credit: NASA

On September 23rd 2019, our MARSBOx experiment was flown on a NASA scientific balloon mission. It carried different types of microorganisms -bacteria, filamentous fungi (mold) and yeast – inside an aluminum container (called TREX). The TREX, together with the flight, exposed the microbes to simulated Mars amosphere, pressure, temperature and UV-radiation conditions!

The balloon was launched from Fort Sumner, New Mexico, o The mission lasted 6.5 hours and reached the stratosphere at an altitude of 38 km! Preliminary results show that most of the bacteria died, but the fungal spores were able to withstand the harsh environment!

The MARSBOx team consists of scientists from the Space Microbiology, Astrobiology and Biophysics research groups from the German Aerospace Center (DLR); scientists from the Aerobiology Laboratory from NASA Ames Research Center, as well as engineers from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

MARSBOx mission patch by Marta Cortesao and Katharina Siems

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