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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 Waterbearlang (2727933) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @08:09PM (#41307273) Homepage
    How does the tiny Waterbear
    Survive in Outer Space
    By dehydrating all the while
    And wrinkling its face!

    How bravely she can abide
    Extremes of cold and heat
    Take it all in stride so gallantly
    With its graceful, nimble feet!

    In works of art or science free
    And open source, no fool
    She teaches children how to code[1]
    Because Waterbear is cool.

    So cute, so humble, so robust
    Waterbear is da boss
    But all she really wants from life
    Is a comfy home of moss.

    [1] Shameless plug: http://waterbearlang.com/ [waterbearlang.com]

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