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Astrobiology – the hunt for alien life

news editor15 September 2011

Dr Lewis Dartnell (UCL Space & Climate Physics) is, in his own words, “paid to hunt for aliens”. Lucy Harper from the Society for Applied Microbiology went to his fascinating talk at the British Science Festival entitled, ‘Astrobiology – the hunt for alien life’.

ExoMars

ExoMars rover - phase B1 concept © ESA

We humans, and the billions of species we share the planet with, are protected from harmful radiation by the Earth’s magnetic field and a thick atmosphere.

But on other planets, such as Mars, radiation levels are much higher and these “Martian death rays” are damaging to life as we know it.

Dr Dartnell is trying to find out how long organisms can survive when exposed to this level of radiation.

(more…)