The EXPOSE research facility is built with the objective to expose biological and biochemical sample materials to the open space environment. EXPOSE offers up to two years of exposure with full access to all components of the harsh space environment: cosmic radiation, vacuum, full-spectrum solar light including UV-C, freezing/thawing cycles, microgravity. The EXPOSE programme is part of ESA’s research in Astrobiology, i.e. the study of the origin, evolution and distribution of life in the Universe.Principal Investigator(s)
European Space Agency (ESA)Sponsoring Organization
Information PendingISS Expedition Duration:
October 2007 - October 2009
16,17,18,19/20Previous ISS Missions
EXPOSE-E carries eight individual experiments as listed below:
Testing the plant seed as a terrestrial model for a panspermia vehicle and as a source of universal UV screens.
Plant seeds have evolved to conserve the species and its genome under extreme stress conditions (cold, desiccation…). The objective of SEEDS is therefore to determine the resistance of plant seeds when exposed to the open space environment. Plant seeds have in fact frequently been tested in space, mostly as part of microgravity and radiation studies, but never with full exposure to solar UV-C on a long-duration flight.
Prebiotic Organic Chemistry on Space Station
The main goal of this investigation is to improve our knowledge of the chemical nature and evolution of organic molecules involved in extraterrestrial environments and with exobiological implications. Many experimental programs are devoted to photochemical studies of molecules in the gaseous phase as well as in the solid state. The validity of such works and their applications to extraterrestrial environments can be questioned as long as experiments conducted in space conditions, with the full solar spectrum, especially in the short wavelengths domain, have not been implemented.
Resistance of spacecraft isolates to outer space for planetary protection purposes
PROTECT resorts under a special niche of astrobiology known as Planetary Protection. Some microorganisms can resist to all sterilization procedures applied nowadays and therefore represent a serious hazard for the in situ search for extraterrestrial life, contaminating the planetary bodies the probes are sent to. It is of crucial importance to measure the resistance of such organisms to space conditions in order to develop adequate decontamination procedures.
Molecular adaptation strategies of micro-organisms to different space and planetary UV climate conditions
The scientific objective of ADAPT is to investigate the capability of micro-organisms to adapt to UV levels like those on Earth and on Mars. Due to the different composition of the Martian atmosphere and its low pressure, the Martian UV radiation climate is significantly different from that on Earth. The hypothesis to be tested is whether longer-lasting selective pressure by UV radiation of different quality would result in a higher UV resistance as well as in a higher resistance against the simultaneous action of further extreme environmental factors that exist in space or on other planets, like vacuum or cosmic radiation.
Resistance of lichens and lithic fungi to space conditions
Lithic fungi and lichens, thriving on Earth in extreme environments, are tested for their rate of survival in open space, with a subset of samples exposed to simulated Martian conditions. Previous ESA experiments in 2005 and 2007 demonstrated the surprising robustness of lichens during two-week exposure to the harsh space conditions – including solar UV. The LIFE experiment is a logical follow-on to these studies, with the exposure duration this time extended from 2 weeks to 18 months.
DOSIS & DOBIES
Radiation Dose Distribution inside EXPOSE
Measurement of the total radiation dose inside EXPOSE-E in close vicinity of the test samples.
Active monitoring of UV and ionizing radiation
The R3D (Radiation Risks Radiometer-Dosimeter) is a device which records, with time resolution, the dose of solar light over four wavelength ranges (UV-A, UV-B, UV-C and photosynthetic active light) as well as the flux of cosmic particles. The R3D supported the biological and biochemical EXPOSE-E experiments by delivering the history of solar irradiation and cosmic radiation as experienced during the mission.
Information PendingEarth Applications
Information PendingOperational Protocols
Onofri S, Rabbow E, Horneck G, Zucconi L, Selbmann L, Albertano P, Scalzi G. LIFE Experiment: Isolation of Cryptoendolithic Organisms from Antarctic Colonized Sandstone Exposed to Space and Simulated Mars Conditions on the International Space Station. Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere: the journal of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life. 2012; 42: 253-262. DOI: 10.1007/s11084-012-9282-5. PMID: 22688852.