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MOSCOW, November 2. During the flight of the Bion-M2 biosatellite, Russian scientists will conduct an experiment where they will plant various microorganisms in an artificial meteorite and check whether they can survive entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, said Vyacheslav Ilyin, head of the laboratory of human microbial ecology at the Institute of Medical and Biological Problems (IMBP) of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
“Meteorite experiment. Objectives: Assessment of biological activity and changes in the genetic characteristics of biological objects in the mineral strata of a meteorite simulator during the passage of dense layers of the atmosphere and the accompanying heating and melting,” says the presentation that Ilyin showed at the scientific council of the institute.
It is clarified that during landing the survival rate during landing of anaerobic thermophilic microorganisms, that is, those that do not require oxygen for growth, but are sensitive to ambient temperature, will be studied. Spore-forming mesophilic microorganisms will also be used in the experiment.
As Ilyin said, capsules with microorganisms from the collections of IBMP and Moscow State University will be placed on “Bion-M2”. In addition, the Federal Siberian University will supply microorganisms from its collection of extremophiles – creatures capable of living and reproducing in particularly harsh environmental conditions. The Vinogradsky Institute of Microbiology will also share its extremophiles, which, according to Ilyin, scientists collect in thermal springs, including in Kamchatka.
The experiment will be carried out for the third time. During one of the previous ones, scientists found that out of 200 different microorganisms found on Earth, two species were able to survive when a “meteorite” entered the atmosphere.
During the Bion program, from 1973 to 1996, 11 satellites were launched into orbit with plants and animals on board, including rats and monkeys. In the 21st century, the program was resumed; in 2013, the modernized Bion-M1 flew, and the Bion-M2 is expected to fly in July 2024.