Hi folks, this is a bio type mention of something I heard and then checked up on.
I thought it was worth sharing.
Black fungus was found thriving inside the extreme radiation environment at the wrecked Chernobyl reactor site.
It seems these lifeforms thrive on gamma rays and use them in a similar fashion to plants using photsynthesis that we are familiar with.
Perfect lifeform for a place like Mars.
The exact mecahnism of energy transfer is unknown, but is known to involve the chemical melanin, yes, the same melanin in human skin. It seems melanin is responsible for converting radiation into chemical energy. Humans may be getting some of their energy from the light they are exposed to.
Lots of UV on Mars, perhaps the Martian bugs, use melanin to convert UV and local nutrients into their chemical energy and other byproducts, methane. Which we seem to be able to see, in strange clouds, which from what I read, should have dissipated long ago.
Since these fungi, lap up the bad stuff and turn it into good stuff, bio material.
It has been proposed that it be thought of as a possible food source in an interplanetary mission.
With bugs like this on Earth, knowing we have probably had chunks blasted off our surface.
How can our Solar System not be swarming with life of some resilient types.
Bugs of this sort would possibly hibernate a ride on the rocks until landing somehwere a bit happier. Mars, a Jovian or Saturnian moon.
Hmm, why not the atmosphere's of those worlds themselves, who am I kidding, these things look like they can can and probably do live everywhere.
I'm glad I heard about this, bit of an eye opener.
I had always thought bugs living in high rad zones were merely rad tolerant,
not rad eaters.
So, now we need to expand our perceptions of
how life can absorb and convert radiation into usable forms.
What parts of the known radiation spectrum are used by lifeforms.
Plants that we are familiar with, use pretty much the same part of the spectrum, that our own eyes are sensitive to, visible light.
They use chlorophyll.
Now we also have gamma radiation eating fungus.
It uses melanin and an electron spin change is involved here somewhere.
OK, now I feel ignorantly aware, as opposed to before, where I was just ignorant full stop.
There is a lot of radiation spectrum to check on.
No doubt a lot of wonderful extremophiles will be discovered.
I never realised the possibilities for exobiology had expanded so much.