The atmosphere is an extreme environment where organisms are subject to low temperatures and high radiation. Many of the microorganisms detected there appear in resistant forms or show mechanisms of adaptation designed to withstand these extreme conditions. Airborne microorganisms may play an important role in the global climate system, biogeochemical cycling, and health. Dust storms are the atmospheric phenomenon that move more topsoil through the Earth’s atmosphere, and numerous microorganisms attached to dust particles are thus transported. The Iberian Peninsula is periodically affected by this phenomenon as African dust frequently reaches southern Europe and the Mediterranean basin. There are numerous methods for sampling airborne microbes, but factors such as low biomass and high variability of the atmosphere render them not yet sufficiently efficient. Very few studies have been conducted directly in the atmosphere via sampling using airborne platforms. The National Institute for Aerospace Technology has two CASA C-212-200 aircraft that have been suitably modified to operate as airborne research platforms. These aircraft are a unique tool for the study of atmospheric microbial diversity and the different environments where they can be found. A study of the airborne microbial diversity in a Saharan dust event from four aerobiology sampling flights is provided in advance.
Part of the book: Extremophilic Microbes and Metabolites
Environmental factors in Mars atmosphere are a part of the research issues of the future Mars 2020 mission. The new rover surface vehicle will transport different instruments to investigate the geology, biology, and meteorology of Mars. Amongst these instruments, the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) will be dedicated to the measurement of environment parameters. Two wind sensors will be included in the meteorological station MEDA because wind plays a very important role in Martian climate. High-quality wind data are required to build mathematical models of the Mars climate; therefore, powerful techniques are necessary to eliminate aerodynamic perturbations produced by the rover presence over wind measurements. This chapter is dedicated to the characterization of the aerodynamics around the Mars 2020 rover and its interaction with the rover Mars surface vehicle in order to get information to correct wind data coming from Mars.
Part of the book: Mars Exploration