Can any life forms exist in the vacuum of space?

If there is a life form that can withstand the harsh environment of space, there seems to be only one


Space is an environment that is endures freezing temperatures and loads of harmful radiation. Image credit: NASA

Asked by Henry Miles

To survive, life forms would need to do three things: survive being in a vacuum, deal with extremely low temperatures, and cope with high levels of radiation. Complex, multi-cellular life wouldn’t be able to survive in a vacuum, but microbes might. Microbiologists have discovered extremophiles – microbes that can survive in extreme conditions – such as Deinococcus radiodurans, which can survive high levels of radiation, as well as a vacuum, a lack of water and cold. Microbes have been known to survive journeys into space. It is possible that 377 bacterial strains were accidentally taken to Mars on the Curiosity rover, although no-one knows if they survived the trip. One microbe that did survive a trip into space was Streptococcus mitis, which hitched a ride to the Moon onboard Surveyor 3 before being brought back to Earth by astronauts on the Apollo 12 mission.

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