In 2008 scientists sent the suitcase-sized Expose-E experiment package to the Space Station filled with organic compounds and living organisms to test their reaction to outer space. The experiment was installed on the outside of the ISS where the space samples endured the full power of the Sun’s rays. The samples were insulated somewhat by the Space Station but still had to cope with temperatures changing from –12ºC to +40ºC over 200 times as they orbited Earth.
The samples returned to Earth in 2009 and the results have now been published in a special issue of the Astrobiology journal.
Read more on the ESA Portal: 'The toughest life on Earth'