Louisiana is already well known for its music and cuisine, but we’re especially excited when the state can also get some attention as the home of groundbreaking research.
That’s just happened with the April edition of Discover magazine, which featured a cover story about the scientific work of a research team that included members from LSU, Louisiana Tech and Southern University.
Among other things, the team’s research considered what kind of life might be able to exist in harsh, extraterrestrial conditions.
The group of researchers, which included LSU physicists and biologists, more than 20 undergraduate and graduate students, plus collaborators from Southern University, Louisiana Tech, NASA-Ames and Aarhus University in Denmark, has taken the cover of Discover, one of the world’s leading popular science publications. The project, called MARSLIFE, or Modes of Adaptation, Resistance and Survival for Life Inhabiting a Freeze-dried-radiation-bathed Environment, essentially studies earthly microorganisms that tolerate conditions similar to those found in extra-terrestrial environments.
The research uses a scientific balloon, which starts off as relatively large, helium-filled inflatable. But once relieved of the pressures of Earth’s atmosphere, the balloons expand even more; the largest one can become larger than LSU’s Tiger Stadium. These balloons carry experimental payloads to sample the microbes found at various heights, and return samples to the biology labs to test the microbe’s “hardiness.”
We applaud this kind of research collaboration among Louisiana’s universities, and we’re glad it’s getting national attention. The Discover magazine story is a nice reminder of Louisiana’s intellectual capital — and the need to encourage such brain power with better state support of public colleges and universities.
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