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.