NASA Will be Launching Balloons of Bacteria During the Eclipse
Monday’s total solar eclipse is highly expected as it will provide plenty of enjoyment, as well as informations
Besides the beauty of the eclipse that we will all be able to benefit of, NASA, in collaboration with researchers at Montana State University will be using this opportunity to launch giant balloons during the event.
The enormous balloons are part of a project named the Eclipse Ballooning Project; it will be used to run a series of experiments, one of which could help prepare for a mission to Mars.
Out of the total of 75 balloons, over 30 of them will carry small samples of resilient bacteria called Paenibacillus xerothermodurans over 80,000 feet above Earth. The bacteria sample will be attached to thin, aluminum “coupons” and further attached to the outside of the balloons. Earth’s stratosphere is very similar to the surface atmosphere on Mars, so they will get some idea of how bacteria might react in that environment.
“We have to be extremely careful that we don’t bring bacteria or other tiny Earth organisms to other planets,” project leader Angela Des Jardins told Gizmodo.
“While most of these tiny forms of life that exists in abundance around us won’t survive the trip through space, it’s understood that some resilient types could ‘go dormant’ on the trip and then survive on the surface of the other planet. Therefore, in order to be prepared to keep planets we visit absolutely pristine, it’s important to understand how bacteria might behave there.”
Besides testing out bacteria, the balloons will also have cameras attached to them so that they can capture cloud video. The team strongly hopes that this will be useful to scientists who are eager to understand cloud formation during a solar eclipse. Moreover, other balloons will carry tiny weather stations that carry the name of radiosondes, that researchers can further use to study how Earth’s atmosphere responds to an eclipse.