Could life survive in alien environments? – Defining environments suitable for life

Brief description:

In this activity, students will consider whether life found in extreme environments on Earth could survive elsewhere in the Solar System.

Students will examine the characteristics of different places in the Solar System and then use fact cards of some example extremophiles to hypothesise which they think might be able to survive in the different extra-terrestrial environments.

Science, Biology

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn what extremophiles are.
  • Consider ecological tolerance.
  • Consider the abiotic factors that affect adaptation and survival of lifeforms.
  • Learn about the environmental conditions of various Solar System objects.
  • Understand that changes in environmental conditions have an impact on the evolution of living organisms.

Age range:
13 – 16 years old


Lesson: 1 hour

Resource available in:

English, Danish, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Romanian and Estonian

Activity 1: Life in space?

In this activity, students will first consider what abiotic factors to investigate when searching for extra-terrestrial life and then examine the characteristics of different Solar System environments.

Students will next be introduced to extremophiles and hypothesize which could possibly survive on the different Solar System bodies they investigated.


  • Fact cards available in Annex 1 and Annex 2, one set for each group.

Did you know?

Artemia franciscana, or Brine Shrimp, are primitive crustaceans found in inland salt water lakes such at the Great Salt Lake in the USA.

Brine Shrimp eggs can survive for 2 years in dry, oxygen-free conditions, and were flown on ESA’s Biopan 2 mission. They were found to be able to endure the low pressure environment of a vaccuum in space, and temperatures below freezing.

Artemia franciscana, also known as Brine Shrimp