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Space & Astronomy

Tardigrades may be stranded on the Moon

By T.K. Randall
August 7, 2019 · Comment icon 8 comments

Could there be a colony of tardigrades living on the Moon ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Goldstein lab
Thousands of the Earth's most indestructible creatures may have been deposited on the lunar surface.
The tardigrade (or water bear) is one of the toughest life forms in existence. These microscopic invertebrates have been around for over 520 million years and have lived through countless mass extinction events including the one that wiped out the dinosaurs.

One of their most impressive tricks is to place themselves in a state of suspended animation by shedding almost all the water in their body, retracting their head and legs and slowing down their metabolism to a mere 0.01% of its normal state.

This near-death state can be reversed - sometimes decades later - by exposing them to water.
Earlier this year, Israel's ill-fated Beresheet spacecraft, which crashed on to the lunar surface, was carrying a number of dehydrated tardigrades as part of a preservation experiment.

It is quite likely that they survived the disaster and may still be alive on the Moon right now.

There is even the possibility that astronauts could one day retrieve and reanimate them.

The tardigrades, it turns out, may in fact be the Moon's first ever long-term residents.

Source: BBC News | Comments (8)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Calibeliever 5 years ago
Amazing creatures. It's a Tardigrade world, and we're just living in it. 
Comment icon #2 Posted by Orphalesion 5 years ago
We need to get those chubby bois home! :-(
Comment icon #3 Posted by XenoFish 5 years ago
I wonder if tardigrades can be genetically modified to terraform planets? Just a random thought...
Comment icon #4 Posted by bmk1245 5 years ago
Fartout oxygen, I'm for it! On the other hand, Cyanobacterias are the most destructive creatures, turned whole planet from CO2 breathing, to O2.....
Comment icon #5 Posted by Herr Falukorv 5 years ago
I am a tardigrade
Comment icon #6 Posted by godnodog 5 years ago
i shall name thee "MattDamondigrades" 
Comment icon #7 Posted by acidlung 5 years ago
Can't help myself...
Comment icon #8 Posted by Grim Reaper 6 5 months ago
The moon may have some unexpected visitors: tardigrades, also known as water bears or moss piglets. These microscopic animals are the second species to reach the moon, after humans, but they did not get there by choice. They were part of a failed Israeli mission to land a spacecraft on the lunar surface in 2019. Life on the Moon Stinks (and All the Tardigrades are Dead) The mission, called Beresheet, was the first privately funded lunar mission, launched by an Israeli nonprofit organization called SpaceIL. Beresheet carried a payload of scientific instruments, a digital time capsule, and a fe... [More]


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