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Space Science

How Does the Tiny Waterbear Survive In Outer Space? 119

Posted by Soulskill
from the must-be-their-tiny-space-program dept.
DevotedSkeptic sends this excerpt from SmithsonianMag: "The humble tardigrade, also known as a 'waterbear' or 'moss piglet,' is an aquatic eight-legged animal that typically grows no longer than one millimeter in length. Most tardigrades (there are more than 1,000 identified species) have a fairly humdrum existence, living out their days on a moist piece of moss or in the sediment at the bottom of a lake and feeding on bacteria or plant life. In 2007, a group of European researchers pushed the resilience of this extraordinary animal even further, exposing a sample of dehydrated tardigrades to the vacuum and solar radiation of outer space for 10 full days. When the specimens were returned to earth and rehydrated, 68 percent of those that were shielded from the radiation survived, and even a handful of those with no radiation protection came back to life and produced viable offspring. How do the little tardigrades survive such a harsh environment? Although amateur tardigrade enthusiast Mike Shaw recently made waves by postulating that the animals may be equipped to survive in outer space because they originally came from other planets, scientists are certain that the creatures developed their uncommon toughness here on earth."
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How Does the Tiny Waterbear Survive In Outer Space?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @06:52PM (#41306601)

    You got the date wrong, it was 2002!

  • by stevegee58 (1179505) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @07:18PM (#41306843) Journal
    I meant that in a nice way.
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @07:23PM (#41306887) Journal

    Although amateur tardigrade enthusiast Mike Shaw recently made waves by postulating that the animals may be equipped to survive in outer space because they originally came from other planets ...

    Tardigrade Captain: Okay over there, bring the ship down in that clearing, it looks like there's some specimens there on that asphalt path.
    *the Tardigrade craft lands in Time Square and the well armed two meter tall Tardigrades disembark*
    Tardigrade Captain: Oh, for the love of Ursa Major! How ugly these specimens turned out! Look at that one!
    *the Tardigrade captain gestures toward an Earth female with her jaw agape*
    Tardigrade Captain: Ewww, what is this on top of them?
    *the Tardigrade captain reaches for the girls hair with his second set of appendages while the first set rubs saliva down his mouth onto his chest and his tertiary set scratches himself*
    Tardigrade Officer: *runs a device over the woman* Some sort of fibrous material sir ... apparently dead organic material ...
    *the Tardigrade captain withdraws his appendages in terror*
    Tardigrade Captain: Oh for fuck's sake, another experiment ruined. Gross. GROSS. All of them just gross as all hell! Alright, everybody back on the ship, you know the drill, take off and nuke 'er from orbit ...
    Tardigrade Officer: But ... but sir, this colony may be lacking light speed travel but our sensors show a plethora of cultural phenomena -- aggregates of which exist right here in this very metropolis!
    Tardigrade Captain: You know Jerry, it's always something with you, isn't it? 'Mew mew mew, this civilization has eliminated all evil. Blah blah blah this civilization is one million years old, isn't that worth something?' Now this is the 174th failed experiment we've checked up on and I ...
    *just then an advertisement for Here Comes Honey Boo Boo [youtube.com] blares across the Times Square display -- the stupefied Tardigrades watch*
    Tardigrade Officer: I'll push the button this time.

  • by Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @07:40PM (#41307053)

    Being dragged out of your home and subjected to solar radiation and a vacuum?

    I expect they live only for revenge.

  • by Third Position (1725934) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @07:45PM (#41307101)

    Now that we know they can survive in extreme environments, what do we do with 'em? I suppose they could dump a few payloads of them on Mars or Venus and wait a few million years while evolution takes it's course....

  • Classic (Score:4, Funny)

    by AnotherAnonymousUser (972204) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @08:50PM (#41307559)
    Dashing and daring
    Courageous and caring
    Faithful and friendly
    With stories to share
    Taaaaaardibears!
  • by dr_dank (472072) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @09:00PM (#41307627) Homepage Journal

    Occam, guys, Occam

    Mod +1 for random reference to The Critic.

Do you suffer painful illumination? -- Isaac Newton, "Optics"

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