Bioarchitectures CosmoEcology (2020) is an Art + Science project by Luis Guzmán that was part of the Sojourner2020 of the MIT Space Exploration Initiative, curated by Xin Liu, a microgravity payload that hosted a total of nine art projects aboard the International Space Station ISS between March and April 2020. The project aims to create a symbiotic technology for multispecies space colonization based in the cultivation of marine diatoms.
Diatoms are enigmatic, nor plant or animal, they share biochemical features of both. They are covered with complex silica structure and are responsible for creating 25-30 % of the oxygen present in the atmosphere of the Earth.
In the orbital laboratory, a sample of Marine Diatoms was subjected to Martian microgravity and zero-gravity conditions inside the Sojourner2020 microgravity payload. The diatomaceous strain Phaeodactylum Tricornutum, used in the experiment, can change between three possible morphotypes: oval, Fusiform, and triradiate. The project aimed to imagine a diatom based technology for oxygen production in space, but also to imagine what are the implications of an interplanetary ecology.
The Following video corresponds to the archive of the NASA/SpaceX Mission CRS-20, Launched from Cape Canaveral on March 7th, 2020. In which the Sojourner2020 arrived to ISS. Dur. 00:09:28
All image credits belong to Nasa and SpaceX.
Life comes from water, maybe in the near future aquatic microbes are going to play an essential role in creating extraplanetary ecological niches for a diversity or aerobic living forms, but thinking of an interplanetary ecology in times of climate crisis, and especially during the COVID19 Pandemic requires to at look terraformation in a critical light and to evaluate how this will affect other places, but also our own biosphere.
How artificial landscapes are going to look like in the future?
How should we think about interplanetary species?
How terrestrial species are going to change?
How are those ecosystems going to be sustainable?
How are we going to relate to possible extraterrestrial life forms?
What are the ethical and political issues of terraforming and space exploration?
How are we going to move beyond anthropocentrism in the conception of those systems?
In the future, diatomaceous artificial ecosystems could help to generate a breathable atmosphere on Mars. Allowing multiple forms of life to develop. Currently, AI can help us to envision how this kind of impact is going to look like in the future...
Mars terraformation. AI-Assisted Simulation (2020).
In the next video, Artificial Intelligence is used to create a visualization of how terraforming could look during the creation of an aerobic atmosphere on Mars. Real Martian and Terrestrial landscape images were fed to an AI morphing algorithm. Dur. 00:02:31
On April 7h 2020, after travelling 19.231.854 km around Earth low orbit (LEO ) in zero and martian microgravity, the diatoms returned to Earth alive... This is the first time diatoms of the strain Phaelodactilum tricurnutum were used to produce oxygen in space conditions.
The following image sequence corresponds to the Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) analysis of the diatom sample. The three possible morphotypes, oval, fusiform and triradiate were found in different concentrations. The lager concentration corresponding to the fusiform morphology (93%), secondly, in lesser concentration, appeared to be the triradiate type (3,8), and finally in a very rare case the oval type (1,2%). Some diatoms also appeared to be in a metamorphosis stage between the fusiform stage and the triradiate stage (1%).
One of the major problems for terrestrial life to exist on Mars is ultraviolet radiation. Diatoms have an external structure made from silica, which helps them to withstand UV radiation, absorbing frequencies between 280 and 400 nm. Also, repair systems for DNA in the form of photolyases driven by blue light, are present in diatoms.The observation of the sample suggests that Microgravity might have played a role in defining the structure of the diatoms, but further studies are required.
Metamorphosis stage (?)
The gravity of the planet represents a constant throughout the evolution of life. From this, we can think that, among many other things, gravity contributes to shaping the bodies of living beings, including marine diatoms.
How can microgravity affect terrestrial life on Mars?
Can we use microgravity to grow diatoms in space conditions?
During the experiment, the alternation of zero-gravity and martian microgravity favoured medium turbulence, which is necessary for diatoms to absorb nutrients. Understanding how diatoms move in microgravity can be useful to create cultivation systems.
The next video is a 3D simulation of microgravity physical conditions to reproduce the environment of the diatomaceous culture in a liquid medium on onboard of the International Space Station. Each line represents the trajectory of a diatom floating in its medium.
Microgravity simulation still.
Microgravity simulation still.
Curated by Xin Liu
MIT Space Exploration Initiative
Launch and ISS footage are owned by SpaceX and NASA respectively.
All the material has been published with non-commercial purpose.
Dir: Luis Guzmán
Edition and post-production: Diego Estrada
Music and Sound: Peter Rosenthal
In collaboration with Alvaro Reyes.
In Collaboration with
Fen-Xia, (Alice) Liang. PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Cell Biology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine
Director, Microscopy Langone Health.
Joseph Sall, BS
Optical Microscopy Specialist
Functional Laboratory Test
At Space and Planetary Exploration Laboratory, Universidad de Chile
Dir. Marcos Díaz PhD
All the image content of the CRS-20 mission is owned by NASA and SpaceX .
Biological Chamber digital manufacturing
Technical laboratory collaborator
Wendy Pouliot PhD
Curated by Jazmín Adler
Roberto Campos PhD.
Universidad de Chile.
Gonzálo Díaz Letelier
University of California
Universidad de Chile
Special thanks to:
David and Ben Lenzner
Francis and Tricia Chennette
Dedicated to the victims of COVID-19 Pandemic