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There are tardigrades on the moon. What now?

Tardigrades, living on every continent of the world, may also live on the moon after a lunar lander has crashed with thousands of microscopic water bears.

Did one of them survive the impact? If they did, what happens to them now?

When the Tardigrads were placed on the Israeli Moon Mission Beresheet, they were in a state of dehydration, their plump limbs and heads withdrawn, and all metabolic activities temporarily suspended. Her arrival on the moon was unexpectedly explosive. Beresheet's crash landing on April 11 may have scattered the microorganisms on the lunar surface.

Tubby tardigrads are notoriously tough but were the Beresheet tardigrads robust enough to survive this impact? It is certainly possible that some of them have made it intact to the moon. But what would that mean for the Moon if it had thousands of Earth microbes as new inhabitants? And what could it mean for the Tardigrades?

Related Topics: 8 Reasons Why We Love Tardigrades

First of all, is someone in trouble because he accidentally dumped Tardigrades on the moon? This is a complicated question but the short answer is no. Space agencies from around the world are following a decade-long contract on what can be left on the moon, and the only explicit prohibitions, according to 1

967, are weapons and experiments or tools that could interfere with other agencies' missions. Space Contract .

In the decades following the treaty, other guidelines were drawn up which recognized the risks of seeding other worlds with soil microbes, and these provisions described methods for sterilizing mission equipment to prevent contamination. Although large space agencies usually follow these rules, there is not a single organization that enforces them globally, as Live Science previously reported .

Scientists have not found any evidence that the Moon ever housed living humans (other than astronauts and microbial hitchhikers from Earth) that might be threatened by microscopic intruders. However, contamination can have serious consequences for missions to planets that still have life, such as on Mars. Experts suggest that a possible consequence of the colonization of Mars could be the extinction of native microbial life by exposure to Earth's bacteria: intestinal bacteria in abandoned bags of Astronaut poo, said Mark Martin, associate professor of biology at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington.

"I would be very surprised if you could not do a culture a few things from the center of this freeze-dried material," Martin told Live Science. "Especially spore-formers, they form a very thick outer layer of their spore proteins, which they are known to protect against dehydration and radiation – a multitude of things."

The Only Survivor

Tardigrades survive conditions that would destroy most other organisms; They expel the water from their bodies and form compounds that seal and protect the structure of their cells. The creatures can spend months in this so-called Tun state and resurrect in the presence of water. Scientists have even revived two tardigrades after a 30-year freeze (19459004) in 2016.

As a barrel, a tardigrade can withstand the cooking, freezing, high pressure, and even the vacuum of space. ESA) reported in 2008 after water bears had been sent into orbit. Ultraviolet radiation turned out to be kryptonite of the Tardigrades, as only a few of the animals survived the complete irradiation with UV light during the ESA experiments.

This could be good news for the dried Beresheet Tardigrades. If they land in a place on the moon that is protected from UV radiation, the microscopic creatures may have a chance of survival, Martin said.

and found these tiny little melons and put them in water, some of them would return to life, "he explained.

As long as the tardigrades remain on the moon, their chance of spontaneous awakening is low Water keeps the tiny creatures in poor condition, and although there is evidence of ice on the moon liquid water is nowhere to be found.

Even though the moon tardigrades encountered liquid water on the moon, without food, air, and moderate ambient temperatures, they would not survive long after their resurrection. Kazuharu Arakawa, a tardigrade researcher from the Institute of Advanced Biosciences at Keio University in Tokyo, told Live Science in an e-mail.

"So much me The creation of Lunar Tardigrade Republic would also like to see, I do not believe that this will happen, "said Martin.

] Originally published released on Live Science .

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