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Lichen Prove to be Toughest Life on Earth

You can freeze it, thaw it, vacuum dry it and expose it to radiation, but still life survives. ESA’s research on the International Space Station is giving credibility to theories that life came from outer space– as well as helping to create better sunscreens.

That’s not a desktop computer tower or an in-flight beverage cart up above. It’s the Expose-E. Sort of like Wall-E in that it’s capable of venturing into space while also storing plants inside of itself for safe keeping.

Well, maybe not safe keeping, but some kind of keeping. After 18 months spent strapped to the outside of the ISS, braving all the highs and lows of existence in a vacuum, the vegetative matter inside came home. And scientists found that lichen, of all things, had proven some of the toughest stuff on or off the Earth. Now, scientists are wondering if lichen’s ability to exist in the void moves us closer to believing that life hitched a ride to this planet on an asteroid.

They also want to use the stuff to make sunscreen lotion. So I guess that’s a thing. —MN

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