LIFE ON MARS
Kombucha, we always knew it was extraordinary but now it’s potentially out of this world (cue groan…).
In the time-honored human compulsion to: explore, turn over, peek behind, collect and collate, poke, prod and pick apart, there are now several groups and organizations that are exploring how different organisms, seeds and collective symbiotic relationships react to conditions in open space (and a simulated Mars-like atmosphere). These include being exposed to the full force of solar radiation, vacuum and vast temperature changes. The kombucha culture being one of these, along with another symbiotic mini-ecosystem, lichen.
The potential applications varying from finding bioindicators for life in our universe to the potential for cosmic mini-manufacturing (using the microbial cellulose), the kombucha culture has proven itself as a robust enough player to be included in a structure strapped to the outside of the International Space Station. The idea of our familiar little micro-cooperative helping humans get to Mars is enough to bring a giant smile to our faces. However, the fact that it and lichen (the other symbiotic collective involved here) do so well to deal with these enormous stresses also reinforces our belief that working together, paired with an inexhaustible sense of wonder make for incredible possibilities. In the words of the late, great cosmic ruminator: