Tardigrades, a living organism humans have left on the Moon
These microscopic animals can stay without water for more than 10 years.
Nova Spivack runs a non-profit organisation called Arch Mission Foundation. The NGO plans to create multiple copies of information related to humans and spread it in the solar system.
When the Israeli moon lander 'Beresheet' was sent, the organisation included a thin sheet of nickel-made DVD-like disc that contained information about humans. It included 30 million pages of information including books, songs, photographs, DNA samples, and more. But, interestingly, the company also sent mini animals called Tardigrades. Tardigrades are microscopic animals that are known to be one of the toughest animals on our planet.
Even though the mission failed, a new report on Wired suggests that these animals are intact and might be spread on the surface of the moon. Spivack suggests that if we find them on the moon in the future and bring them back to the earth, we might find them alive.
Here are a few interesting facts about these micro-animals and their survival capabilities:
1. They can survive without food and water for several years (even up to 30 years).
2. They are extremely resistant to radiation in space.
3. They can withstand a temperature range of -272 deg C to +150 deg C.
Stories of their survival:
In September 2007, around 3000 Tardigrades hitch-hiked to space on an oton-M3 mission. These 1mm long Water Bears returned after a stay of 12 days in space. Scientists examined them and found many of them to be alive. Considering the adverse conditions of extreme dehydration and cosmic radiation in space it is difficult for any organism to survive there.
Tardigrades can enter a state of deep suspended animation. They are not able to move around or reproduce on the Moon. They are frozen in time. They would have to be recovered and taken to a place with a suitable atmosphere, and then rehydrated, to *potentially* be reanimated.— Arch Mission Foundation (@archmission) August 6, 2019
How do they survive?
They are capable of entering into a state called anhydrobiosis. This state allows them to shut off part of their metabolism (or slow it down to a very slow speed). It also allows them to stay without water for years. Once they are brought into an atmosphere with water they can come back to life.
About the Tardigrades in the Lunar Library: Some are sealed in epoxy with 100 million human, plant and microorganism cells. Some are encapsulated onto the sticky side of a 1cm square piece of Kapton tape that is sealed inside the disc stack. They cannot reproduce on the Moon.— Nova Spivack (@novaspivack) August 6, 2019
There are other organisms that can live in space and survive tough conditions. But Tardigrades are probably one of the most diverse animals that can survive in various adverse conditions. They have been revived even after freezing for 30 years. Also called Water Bears, they are generally found in temporary ponds and in the droplets of water in the soil and on moist plants on the Earth.
We have already sent information and tokens that are expected to keep the memories of humanity alive. A few examples are a Tesla car with a dummy human and the Voyager Golden Records on the Voyager spacecraft. These tokens are meant to spread information about our existence.
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