Mars for Earthlings > Lesson Modules > Homework 1- Sea Monkey Experiment

Sea Monkey Experiment

Homework 1_Extremophiles (courtesy of Brian Hynek, University of Colorado-Boulder)

Marjorie Chan PhD and Julia Kahmann-Robinson PhD, University of Utah Department of Geology & Geophysics

Purpose

Understand what an extremophile is. IF life exists on Mars it would certainly be an extremophile by Earth standards.

Resources

Engage

What are sea monkeys that you can buy at a store? What kind of environment do they thrive in?

Introduction

Sea monkey eggs (similar to our own Great Salt Lake brine shrimp) reportedly can survive dormant for > 20,000 years without water. They breathe through their feet and are born<a></a> with 1 eye but develop 2 more.

Explore

Project Assignment

  1. Design a scientific experiment to examine some kind of extreme conditions (without destruction) on the revival and/or survival of dormant life forms (your brine shrimp eggs). Perhaps you might bake the eggs, drown them in your favorite soda pop, soak them in acidic lemon juice, or subject them to other extreme conditions or combinations you come up with!
  2. Carry out a scientific experiment following the scientific method. (After subjecting your brine shrimp eggs to extreme conditions, see if you can still get them to hatch.) Record all condition information of time, methods, amounts, solutions etc.
  3. After this we will do a "blind test" and your brine sea monkey eggs will be given to someone else to raise (so you are not tempted to bias the experiment).
  4. Meet with the group that attempted to hatch your eggs. Discuss the results in terms of your hypothesis.
  5. In a clear and concise write up of your experiment, discuss the results in the broader terms of astrobiology.

Explain

Brine shrimp eggs are ideal for testing life's response to extreme conditions since they can survive (or remain dormant) in a wide variety of conditions (pH of 2-10, high salinity, various radiation environs, range of temperatures, etc.).

Elaborate

Students can try additional experiments with the eggs.

Other students can research other types of extremophiles (e.g. Mono Lake, Yellowstone hot springs, deep sea vents and black smokers).

Evaluate

Students should be prepared to discuss the design of your experiment and outcomes with the class (In-Class Activity 2) following the submission of the assignment.