At press time, the scientists had tested Deinococcus radiodurans, a bacterium known for its radiation tolerance, Xanthoria elegans, a lichen that thrives in Antarctica and low-oxygen conditions, and Bacillus subtilis, a comparatively ordinary bacteria found in soil around the planet. "I was astonished that organized, symbiotic communities such as lichens [which consist of fungi and photosynthetic algae or bacteria] can survive," de Vera says. After 22 days, 80 to 90 percent of the lichens were not only alive but active—it seems that complex life-giving processes can happen off-planet. For one thing, de Vera says, "this is the first evidence that organisms might conduct photosynthesis on Mars." Next he plans to investigate whether methane-producing bacteria, which could account for Mars's methane clouds, can make it on the planet.