David Gilichinsky, статья в ж. ASTROBIOLOGY

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David Gilichinsky, статья в ж. ASTROBIOLOGY


ASTROBIOLOGY                                                                                                                      Tribute

Volume 12, Number 3, 2012

David Gilichinsky

Chris McKay

David gilichinsky, an international leader in the study of microorganisms in permafrost and astrobiology, passed away on February 16, 2012, from heart complications. He was just a week short of turning 65 on February 25. David was the longtime head of the Geocryology Laboratory in Pushchino, Russia. I began working with him in the summer of 1990,
when he led a major international expedition to drill into ancient Siberian permafrost for microbial investigations. He was quite a phenomenon in the field, operating the permafrost
drill nonstop in the 24 hours of polar light. We supported him in rotating crews of three, working mere 10–12 hour shifts. After the drilling, he would relax in the dining tent and
engage in wide-ranging discussions on astrobiology and planetary exploration. David was intently focused on determining how microorganisms were preserved in ancient permafrost.
To my knowledge, he was the first to develop the methods for drilling in permafrost without the use of drilling fluids, thereby preventing contamination of the core. We
learned this approach, as well as David’s methods for storing and handling samples, and, with David’s help, applied these to new studies in the Canadian Arctic and Antarctica. David’s primary scientific legacy is that he demonstrated to a skeptical science community that the Siberian permafrost contained viable microorganisms that had been immobilized
in the ice-cemented ground for up to 5 million years. This was an important discovery and motivated the microbiological study of putative 25-million-year-old ice in Antarctica; it
spurred those of us interested inMars to consider the prospect of life preserved for over 4 billion years on that planet in icecemented ground in the Southern Highlands. David was also active in international science. He actively participated in the International Permafrost Association, and he was eager to involve scientists from all over the world in his field expeditions. In addition, he participated in expeditions in many other countries and Antarctica. His strong yet gentle personality will be missed whenever there is drilling to
be done searching for microbial life in ice-cemented ground.


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