Tardigrades, known to many as water bears or moose pigs, are perhaps the cutest organisms you need to see with a microscope. They are also remarkably robust: The tiny creatures are able to produce glass shields in their cells to protect themselves in extreme conditions, and they can survive almost anywhere, even in space. Now, as BBC News reports, their resilience is put to the test. In April of last year, an Israeli spaceship crashed and threw thousands of tardigrades on the moon. The chances of survival of the mission officials are "extremely high".
The spaceship that crashed on the moon last spring had a "fuse" on planet Earth. "The mission was organized by the Arch Mission Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to collect libraries of human knowledge and history and store them in various places in the Solar System." This special collection contained human DNA samples, a CD-ROM. similar disk with 30 million pages of information and dehydrated tardigrades.
The Lunar Library shipped Israel Aerospace Industries' Beresheet spacecraft as a first-ever private moon landing, failing at the last minute when the lander's main engine malfunctioned. The Beresheet probe might not have survived the trip, but according to Nova Spivack, CEO of the Arch Mission Foundation, it's probably been done by thousands of Tardigrad passengers.
If Tardigraden are dehydrated, they are virtually indestructible In the danger, they independently enter this near-death state and leave without food, water or even air until the conditions improve. They can live this way for decades without any problems, and when they are rehydrated, they immediately resume their normal lives.
Spivack's prediction that moon tardigrads fare well is more than a hunch: the creatures were brought into space and survived. However, this case is not a controlled experiment, and the introduction of a new species on the lunar surface could have unforeseen consequences. Humans have previously left objects on the moon ̵
If the lunar library remained intact as a result of the crash, future missions could detect and recover. Perform tests on the tardigrades once they are returned to Earth. Until then, there is a high probability that the Earth is no longer the only celestial body in our solar system that supports life.
[h/t BBC News]