Space TravelersIn general, lichens are considered extremophiles. Many can survive extreme environments - even conditions of excessive radiation and temperatures that would kill most other organisms in moments. In order to test the possibility of a lichen surviving an interplanetary journey, in June 2005 the European Space Agency took a specimen of Elegant Sunburst Lichen (Xanthoria elegans) into space. After being exposed directly to all the perils of space for 14.6 days, it was returned to earth for testing. There was a full rate of survival and an unchanged ability to photosynthesize.
- Joe Walewski