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Tardigrades, a living organism humans have left on the Moon

These microscopic animals can stay without water for more than 10 years.

Tardigrades, a living organism humans have left on the Moon

On April 11, 2019, the world's first private moon lander 'Beresheet' sent by Israel crashed a few minutes before landing. Apart from its normal duration of stay and exploration it also carried a token that would spread information about the existence of humanity.
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.

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.

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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