These organisms are one of the very few that exist both
on-planet and spaceborne. It is suspected their ionization control
facilitates their being swept into space by the Dwarf's
- Metabolism: The metabolic rate of a vacuum algae is usually almost nil, but
since a single cell can live as long as two
hundred years some growth and reproduction do occur.
- Coloration: Each algae is a mottled green-and-black, where the green
photosynthesizes light from the G star while the black absorbs infrared from
the brown dwarf primary.
- Interior: Like all other ring life, the algae's body fluids are
loaded with ethylene glycol, to control freezing and boiling.
- Fronds: These entrap free air molecules, ice and dust, which are
slowly transported into the cell for growth.
The fronds also function to regulate each cell's charge, by actively pumping
hydrogen ions in and out through their sharp tips. Ionization control may
help the plants navigate a little, but it is clearly useful in attracting
free matter from a distance. Vacuum algae are usually more positively charged
than their surroundings.
These plants tend to align their body planes perpendicular to the flow of
ring matter, maximizing capture area.
- Membrane: Every cell is covered with a thick lipid layer, which at low
temperatures is stiffer than bees' wax.
This coating provides protection against evaporation, as well as
a sticky trap for micrometeorite dust. It also maintains a small
interior pressure (0.005 atmosphere), like a tiny space suit.
On-planet, they can be found as high up
as the ionosphere, though only during large disturbances such as
a solar flare or volcanic eruption. At sea level they grow to resemble
more conventional blue-green algae.
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