The Planetary Society's Phobos Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment (Phobos LIFE) flew in the sample return capsule of the Russian Federal Space Agency's Phobos Grunt mission and was to have been a test of one aspect of the hypothesis that life can move between nearby planets within ejected rocks. Although the Phobos Grunt mission failed, we present here the scientific and engineering design and motivation of the Phobos LIFE experiment to assist with the scientific and engineering design of similar future experiments. Phobos LIFE flew selected organisms in a simulated meteoroid. The 34-month voyage would have been the first such test to occur in the high-radiation environment outside the protection of Earth's magnetosphere for more than a few days. The patented Phobos LIFE "biomodule" is an 88 g cylinder consisting of a titanium outer shell, several types of redundant seals, and 31 individual Delrin sample containers. Phobos LIFE contained 10 different organisms, representing all three domains of life, and one soil sample. The organisms are all very well characterized, most with sequenced genomes. Most are extremophiles, and most have flown in low Earth orbit. Upon return from space, the health and characteristics of organisms were to have been compared with controls that remained on Earth and have not yet been opened.
- Biologi (106)