Pluto bioenergetics

Anna Crow


This study explores the potential for microbial life on Pluto's surface by comparing estimated energy requirements of Earth's E. coli with Pluto's surface irradiance. The analysis suggests that, given a source of complex organic compounds, Pluto's energy flux may be sufficient to generate and sustain microbial life, challenging assumptions about Pluto's habitability based solely on its relatively limited energy flux.



Biology; Physics; Microbial life; Energy flux; Habitability; Astrobiology; Pluto

Full Text:



Deng, Y., Beahm, D.R., Ionov, S. & Sarpeshkar, R. (2021) Measuring and modeling energy and power consumption in living microbial cells with a synthetic ATP reporter. BMC Biology, 19(101). DOI: 10.1186/s12915-021-01023-2

Gladstone, G.R., Stern, S.A., Ennico, K., Olkin, C.B., Weaver, H.A., Young, L.A., Summers, M.E., Strobel, D.F., Hinson, D.P., Kammer, J.A., Parker, A.H., Steffl, A.J., Linscott, I.R., Parker, J.Wm., Cheng, A.F., Slater, D.C., Versteeg, M.H., Greathouse, T.K., Retherford, K.D. & Throop, H. (2016) The atmosphere of Pluto as observed by New Horizons. Science, 351(6279). DOI: 10.1126/science.aad8866

Levin, P.A. & Angert, E.R. (2015) Small but Mighty: Cell Size and Bacteria. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology, 7(7), p.a019216. DOI: 10.1101/cshperspect.a019216

Philips, R.M. & R. (2014) How much energy is released in ATP hydrolysis? Cell Biology by the Numbers. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 11th March 2024]

Williams, D.R. (2019) Pluto Fact Sheet. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 11th March 2024]


  • There are currently no refbacks.
We use both functional and performance cookies to improve visitor experience. Continue browsing if you are happy to accept cookies. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.