Season 2, Episode 6 of The Space and Science Show #AskAbby series
Presented by TheMarsGeneration.org
The Truth About Aliens.
In the sixth episode of Season 2 of #AskAbby, join aspiring astronaut Abby Harrison, AKA Astronaut Abby, as she answers the question “What would extraterrestrial life look like?” Based on Abby’s research at the Schrueger Lab of Kennedy Space Center, Abby will talk about what extraterrestrial life would potentially look like, based on what we know now.
Includes answers to questions including: Would alien life look like the representations we’ve seen in popular science fiction media? What are extremophiles? Are there single-celled organisms on Earth that could survive in Mars-like conditions? What are tardigrades or water bears and what makes them so special? What extreme conditions could water bears survive?
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Transcription of THE TRUTH ABOUT ALIENS:
What would a real-life alien look like? Would they be cute like in E.T.? Scary like the Predator? Or just plain annoying like Jar Jar Binks? There’s a lot of speculation about aliens. But here and now, I’m going to tell you the truth about extraterrestrial life.
Hi everyone, I’m Astronaut Abby, aspiring astronaut with the goal to be the 1st person to walk on Mars. Welcome to Ask Abby, where I answer questions about space and science submitted by you, the viewers. This episode we’re going to be answering the question: What would extraterrestrial life look like?
Would they have laser eyes? Tentacles? Or Green skin? Uhh, no.
When we do find extraterrestrial life, it’ll most likely look more like this. Yup, we’re talking about single-cell organisms like bacteria or archaea. The closest thing we have to extraterrestrial life on earth are extremophiles.
Extremophiles are organisms that, you guessed it, can survive under extreme conditions. This actually has to do with research that I have been doing for the last two years at the Kennedy Space Center Schrueger Mars Space Astrology labs. We work with a bacteria called Serratia Liquefaciens testing to see if it could live on Mars. So what we found–and this is a very generalized summary–is that Serratia Liquefaciens could survive in conditions like those on Mars.
So while we haven’t found extraterrestrial life yet, we do know that there are organisms from here, on Earth, that could survive in space. So while Serratia Liquefaciens and other extremophiles are pretty cool, the award for the cutest extremophile has to go to the Tardigrade. Also known as a water bear or a moss piglet.
Water bears are microscopic animals that live in moss or lichen and have been around for anywhere from 100 million to 520 million years ago. That means that they’re almost as old as my mom. (Hey! I heard that!) Whoops!
Aside from being pretty cute, water bears are also pretty darn invincible. They can survive 1,000 times the lethal dose of radiation to humans, 6,000 times the Earth’s atmospheric pressure, 100 years without water, and up to twelve days in space without oxygen. They also contain the most foreign DNA of any animal on earth, meaning that they have the most DNA from another species. Tardigrades have 17.5 percent foreign DNA whereas most animals have less than 1 percent.
While the truth about extraterrestrial life may not be as exciting as you had thought (sorry guys, no little green martians running around), it is exciting in another way. Extremophiles hold vast scientific implications that help us in our journey to learn more about life outside of Earth. And who knows? As we continue to expand our horizons and go where no human has gone before, we may find extraterrestrials that are more like the aliens shown in our favorite sci-fi shows, like those in Star Trek.
That’s all the time we have today for Ask Abby. Thank you so much for joining me for The Mars Generation Space and Science Show. I hope that our topic wasn’t too alien for you!
If you’d like to ask me a question and potentially see it answered here, on Ask Abby, feel free to tweet it to me using the #AskAbby hashtag or submit it at The Mars Generation linked below. And as always, if you enjoyed this segment, please go ahead and give us a thumbs up and make sure to subscribe so that you don’t miss the next one.
And until next time, farewell fellow travelers of spaceship Earth.