Microorganisms are central to the exploration and settlement of space. Their study can inform the search for life beyond Earth and they can be used to perform many bioindustrial processes to support a human presence in space. In this seminar, I'll illustrate these uses by describing recent work in our lab including experiments on board the International Space Station to demonstrate biomining in space using microorganisms. Finally, I'll take a detour and describe a public engagement project we launched in 2016, Life Beyond, which involves prisoners in Scottish prisons in designing stations for the Moon and Mars
Charles Cockell is Professor of Astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh and Co-Director of the UK Centre for Astrobiology, which he established in 2011. His academic interests encompass life in extreme environments, the habitability of extraterrestrial environments and the exploration and settlement of space. He has previously worked at NASA Ames Research Centre (NRC Postdoctoral Fellowship) and the British Antarctic Survey. His work has taken him to both poles and many other extreme environments. He has published over 300 scientific papers and numerous books, including a series on the conditions for liberty beyond Earth. He leads the Life Beyond program, which engages prison inmates in the design of human settlements in space. He is Chair of the Earth and Space Foundation, a non-profit organisation he established in 1994 which funds expeditions that advance the unity between space exploration and environmentalism.