Lichens survive in space aboard ESA's Foton M-2 mission launched into low-Earth orbit by a Russian Soyuz rocket, 31 May. After reaching orbit, the Biopan facility containing the lichens opened to expose them to the vacuum, radiation and wide temperature fluctuations of space for 14.6 days. It closed again for reentry and landing by parachute. The samples were examined at the ESA research facility in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.
The survival rate exceeded 90%, and photosynthesis was not impaired, according to the scientist in charge of the experiment, Leopoldo García Sancho of the Complutense University of Madrid. The results "would support the theory of panspermia," he said.
This links to images from the Biopan 4 and 5 missions: