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Home / Science / Thanks to a crashed Israeli spaceship, Tardigrads are now on the moon

Thanks to a crashed Israeli spaceship, Tardigrads are now on the moon



  Space-waterbear

This is not a scientific representation of Tardigrads as space. But they definitely look cool when they hover in orbit.


Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton / CNET

Tardigraden – lovingly called water bears – are microscopic animals that can survive in almost any environment. We already know that it is possible for scientists to revive Tardigraden after a 30-year freeze . As "extremophiles" Tardigrades can switch off their metabolism and survive for a long time under hostile conditions. But can they survive in space, more specifically on the moon?

Already in April, an Israeli aerospace company called Beresheet had thousands of dehydrated tardigrades (among other valuable cargo) crashed on the moon . Some people wondered if the water bears could survive.

One of these persons was the founder of the Arch Mission Foundation Nova Spivack . The Arch Mission Foundation is a non-profit organization whose primary goal is to create a "backup of planet Earth".

The Israeli spaceship transported the first lunar library of the Arch Mission, a digital archive equivalent to 30 million pages of information. It also carried human DNA samples and thousands of dehydrated tardigrades. It is not known how much of the cargo actually landed on the lunar surface after the crash.

Based on Arch Mission's analysis of the spaceship's journey and construction of the lunar library itself, Spivack said on Monday to Wired that he was confident The library, a "DVD-sized object made of thin nickel plates," survived the crash largely unscathed.

That does not mean that the DNA or the water bears are in good shape.

"We have sent enough DNA to regenerate life on Earth, if necessary" tweeted Spivack on Tuesday . "Although it would require more advanced biotechnology than we need to do, at least our DNA is now out of the field, but keep in mind that cells and DNA on the moon can neither survive nor reproduce, but if retrieved, they could to be useful."

Spivack noted that the tardigrades can not reproduce on the moon regardless.

"About the tardigrades in the Lunar Library: Some are sealed with 100 million human, plant and microorganism cells in epoxy resin" Spivack tweeted on Tuesday . "Some are encapsulated on the sticky side of a 1-cm square Kapton tape sealed inside the disc stack, they can not reproduce on the moon."

Although the dehydrated tardigrads on the moon can not bring to life, they could theoretically be collected, revived, and studied to tell us something about their time there.

"It is unlikely that cells can survive on the moon without much more protection from radiation," added Spivack . "However, the human cells, plant cells, and microorganisms we sent could be recovered, studied, and their DNA extracted – possibly to be cloned and regenerated in the future."

Arch Mission Foundation, Nova Spivack and SpaceIL did not do this. I do not answer immediately for a comment.


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