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In my world, Earth populated the Moon. Even if people are concealed in stations they got to go out from time to time (to explore or repair things that robot can't).

My question is:

Is it possible that the presence of human beings makes life blooming on the Moon outside of the stations? If yes to what would those life forms look like?

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  • $\begingroup$ Are you wondering if eventually the moon would be semi-habitable? $\endgroup$ – James Jul 17 '15 at 14:24
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They found a fungus in the remains of the reactor at Chernobyl that had adapted to using melatonin to convert ionizing radiation to to produce sugars so in principle a life form could evolve that would view the high radiation environment of the moon as smorgasbord.

Despite all the talk about anti-oxidants, free-radicals make biology go around, they just have to be controlled. If ionizing radiation was being actively "eaten" for lack of another term, then likely it wouldn't damage the rest of the organism to badly.

There are extremophile organism from the archaea domain that survive massive extremes of pressure and heat. Some of them that live deep in minerals veins use virtually no water.

So, it might be conceivable for a microbe to evolve that ate ionizing radiation and required little water. Likely, it would live just under the soil and hibernate in the lunar night when everything froze and the radiation influx died down.

Boring but plausible.

Then they spontaneously organize like slime-molds and searching for water, which the lunar base just happens to have a lot of.

Dun-dun-duuuun!

Radiation eating blob immune to extremes of temperature and you have to get every last cell to kill it. I'd watch that movie.

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  • $\begingroup$ Love it. Add to that mutations likely from radiation, and adaptive radiation typical in a new niche. Plus: maybe it mixes with alien microbes that have landed on the moon over the eons but not flourished. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Jul 18 '15 at 3:07
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Assuming you don't mean any that we genetically modify to live on the surface, it will be primarily microbes. maybe eventually something like a lichen. Most of these would also likely be living on the out side habitats of humans. Since most habitats will have some leakage that is likely where they will get most of their oxygen and moisture.

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    $\begingroup$ Radiation on the moon's surface is pretty intense. It would either sterilize everything, or cause some interesting mutations. Combined with the insane heat/cold fluctuation (-233C to 123C), I question that anything could live on the surface for very long... $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Jul 17 '15 at 14:49
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Because of radiation and other dangers, a lot of people think that stations on the moon will be buried or dug down deep. There are extinct volcanoes on the moon, which means there could be lava tubes and caves where life could leave the stations and be sheltered. Bacteria, fungus, and lichen would be the most likely, since light wouldn't be available. Given enough time and air leakage bringing caves and tunnels up to a breathable pressure, you could have escaped laboratory animals, or rats/mice that stow away on cargo shuttles.

If you really wanted to, you could even have someone releasing stuff on purpose, or trying to build underground habitats as a way to live off the grid, and those habitats spreading.

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Only really advanced genetic engineering or the use of "wet" nano (i.e. nanotechnology created using artificial analogues of DNA) would even begin to make this possible, but the Moon would be a pretty challenging environment even for that.

Life and living things would need a way to gain energy and nutrition (i.e. the building blocks to replicate themselves), as well as a way to protect the delicate machinery (DNA, RNA, various proteins etc.) from the harsh environment of the Moon.

Assuming a huge hand wave and some sort of artificial DNA could be constructed to survive on the Moon, what attributes would it need?

  1. Massive redundancy and error checking. The DNA will be under intense radiation from the Sun and other sources of cosmic radiation, so the DNA will be constantly being exposed to enough energy to break parts of the molecule. The DNA will need to be capable of either operating without random sections, or have the ability to find and repair areas of damage.

  2. Protection from the environment. The DNA could be "scaffolded" onto particular mineral crystals, so it always follows a "template" which allows it to work in extreme environments. Alternatively, it could be designed in such a way that the organism uses local materials to build shelters; think of Earthly corral, or bacteria which form hard spores that can survive inactive for centuries without water.

  3. Ability to "live off the land". An artificial life form on the Moon would need to be something like a plant, capable of taking the minerals of the Lunar regolith and converting them into something else. This will be quite challenging since the Lunar surface consists of things like Aluminum Oxide, Titanium and other metals and minerals. This is quite outside the boundaries of conventional Earth life, but may be possible.

  4. Ability to do "chemistry" without water. One reason life on Earth works is the various minerals, proteins and so on can easily dissolve in water and are carried about inside the cell membranes to recombine into other useful things. AS liquid water cannot exist on the surface of the Moon, then some other medium will be needed.

  5. Lives off solar energy. This is also problematic, since being receptive to the Sun may also mean being open to high energy radiation. This also places constraints on the life form, since the Sun is readily available for 14 days, then vanishes at night for 14 days, and so on. The life form either has to go dormant for 14 days, or have an energy storage mechanism.

After solving these problems, it may be possible that the Moon's surface could be covered in a carpet of "bacteria", and after untold generations evolve into "plants" and "animals" that settle the entire Lunar ecosphere, following rules of their own. No one will have a good understanding of the Lunar ecosystem without prolonged observation and study, as ecologies can evolve in random directions and are complex, adaptive systems which means inputs do not have linear outputs, rather outputs can be quite distant spatially and temporally from the input, and do not scale in a linear manner. Much like Jurassic Park; "Life will find a way".

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  • $\begingroup$ I think nature may be a lot more ingenious as you think. At least this suggests it. $\endgroup$ – Burki Jul 20 '15 at 11:05

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