The Technical
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The Technical

Water Bears in Space!?

A Tardigrade or Water Bear in Water

Water-Bears or Tardigrades have suited up and taken the plunge into space!

Taking one giant leap, or crash, onto the moon.

What Are Tardigrades?

A Tardigrade or Water Bear suspended in Water

Also known as the moss piglet, Tardigrades are close relatives to insects and crustaceans.

They are 1 millimetre in size and live in a variety of habitats worldwide, including moss, plants, sand, and fresh water.

Tardigrades have the unique ability to withstand extremely low temperatures, making them extremophiles!

These organisms tolerate environmental extremes.

When Tardigrades find themselves in unfavourable conditions they enter a state of “suspended animation.”

Their body dries out and morphs into a lifeless ball, with a slowed metabolism.

They can remain in this state for as long as a decade until conditions become favourable.

And when they’re in this state, Tardigrades don’t age.

They are basically in a self-induced cryogenic state.

How Tardigrades Outlast Humans

The anatomy of a Tardigrade or Water Bear

David Sloan and Rafael Batista conducted an experiment to determine how Tardigrades react to fallout from cataclysmic events such as high temperatures capable of boiling the Earth’s oceans and dangerous radiation levels.

It turns out that while human life would end, Tardigrades would thrive.

In their dried out “Tun” state, tardigrades produce anti-oxidants to neutralize excessive amounts of radiation.

This helps when they’re cast out into radioactive space.

How Did Water-Bears Invade Space?

A Tardigrade travelling through space

Back in April, a moon bound Israeli spacecraft crashed after a computer error.

Scientists filled the craft with tardigrades and human DNA samples.

When the shuttle crashed, thousands of tardigrades planted their microscopic flags on the moon’s surface.

This is not the first time Tardigrades have boldly gone where no microscopic organism has gone before.

In 2007, European scientists sent a group of Tardigrades to orbit the Earth for 10 days.

When the water-bears returned from their trip, 68% of them survived, with the Suns UV rays damaging some of their DNA.

Why Tarigrades evolved to become so tough is a mystery.

One theory claims tardigrades evolved to be taken by the wind and survive in the earths atmosphere if water evaporated.

there is still much to learn about these interesting micro-astronauts!

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Psychology, science, business, health, sports, music, and movies. These subjects intersect through time. The Technical makes content to highlight these intersections and enlighten curious readers.

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Joe Scaglione

Joe Scaglione

A content writer interested in what everyone else is interested in.

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