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SANTORINI VOLCANO The Experiment of Santorini: Life to Mars from a Greek Island

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An international project of great scientific importance has been in progress since 1997 aiming to create life on Mars. More specifically, scientists believe that if they manage to move to Mars iron bacteria found in Santorini, they will create appropriate conditions for the survival of living beings there. Mars' atmosphere consists of 5% oxygen while the same percentage in Earth's atmosphere is 21%. By transferring iron bacteria to Mars this percentage will be increased due to bacteria's property to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) and release oxygen.

The American geologist Eleonora Robbins (USA Geological Survey Affiliation) tried to contact other scientists through the Internet in order to get information about iron bacteria. A Greek Professor of Astrophysics Medicine in Aristoteles University of Thessaloniki, Chrisoula Kourtidou, responded to her request informing her that the iron bacteria she was looking for exist in large quantities in Santorini's volcano area. Eleonora Robbins came to Greece, visited Santorini in order to study the bacteria in their physical environment and Chrisoula Kourtidou started the project of creating atmosphere on Mars. This is how an international scientific collaboration started.

When the two scientists came to Santorini they were both very excited, but on the other hand they faced a problem; they could not stay in Santorini for a whole year studying the bacteria. It was then that adults realized how helpful children can be if they are given certain responsibilities. Gerasimina Kafourou, the principal of Santorini's high school got involved in this effort and a scientific educational project was initiated.

High school students would be responsible for sending to NASA monthly samples for study. Five children, Anna Damigou-17, Manolis Renieris-18, Michalis Renieris-17, Theoni Kafieri-18, and Nickolas Petropoulos-18, became part of the project. Each month they had to collect samples of the bacteria in test tubes, to measure the temperature of the water where the bacteria were found, to measure the water's PH and write a report to NASA along with notices about the circumstances and the weather under which the bacteria had been collected.

Due to their contribution, Greece was elected by NASA among 23 other countries as the place to host the 13th Convention "Man in Space" which was held in Santorini between 20-26 May 2000. The Convention was supported by the first department of Physiology and Space Research, NASA.

Source : by Spiros Tzelepis
In the photo Eleonora Robbins and the young researchers before the beginning of their journey to the volcano crater



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