Astro-Ecology

Scientific study of the interactions of life with space environments
and  resources. The results quantify the immense potentials for future life
in the Solar System, in the galaxy, and in the universe.

Can space resources support life?         

Recent experiments showed that microbes, algae, and plant cultures (asparagus, potato) can grow well carbonaceous and Martian meteorites. This suggests that asteroid and Martian soils are fertile.     


Astrobiology_AlgaeDAG.jpg (298457 bytes)Astrobiology_Aspag1.jpg (217206 bytes)
Asparagus growing on carbonaceous meteorite soil

Algae growing on Mars meteorite soil

How much life can the Solar System support?

Nutrients in meteorites show that carbonaceous asteroids can support a hundred million trillion kilograms of biomass and human space populations of thousands of trillions.

How can we measure the amounts of life?

The total  amount of life in a ecosystem depends on the amounts of biomass and its duration, expressed as time-integrated biomass (kg-years). For example, the amount of life on Earth to date is about quadrillion kg x billion years = 1e24 kg-years. Potential future life in the Solar System, based on asteroid and cometary materials, is much greater, 1e28 - 1e34 kg-years.

What is the future of life in the galaxy?       

Life can survive about red and white dwarf stars for trillions of eons, supporting  astronomical amounts of time-integrated biomass  on the order of 1e46 kg-years.

What is our cosmological future?

The immense amounts of future life will allow great diversity in biology and intelligence. In our descendants, life can then continue for trillions of eons. They may then understand nature more deeply, and try to extend life indefinitely. In that future our human existence will find a cosmic purpose.

Scientific Papers and Books (M. N. Mautner)

Selected recent papers:

Planetary bioresources and astroecology.  1. Plant and algal microcosm bioassays of Martian and meteorite soils Icarus 2002, 158,72-86.

Planetary Resources and Astroecology - Implications for Space Populations and Panspermia Astrobiology 2002,2,59-76.

Life in the Cosmological Future: Resources, Biomass and Populations, Journal of the British Interplanetary Society 2005, 59, 167-180. 

Book: Seeding the Universe with Life - Securing Our Cosmological Future (popular science and technical reprints)
 

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