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Space Science

How Does the Tiny Waterbear Survive In Outer Space? 119

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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  • Better Title (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @07:31PM (#41306959)

    "Scientists believe Water Bears from space have made habitat on earth."

  • by dzfoo ( 772245 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @07:54PM (#41307169)

    I hear you. And most worrisome is that we may have endowed them with super powers by exposing them to cosmic radiation in outer space!

    - "What's the status on those wriggly buggers?"
    - "Tardigrades? Well, sir, against all odds and expectations, some of them managed to survive. They're even breeding!"
    - "Really? Even the ones exposed to cosmic radiation?"
    - "Even the ones exposed to cosmic radiation, yes."
    - "Wow! They're even more resilient than we thought!"
    - "You could even say, indestructible..."
    - "Amazing."
    - "Sir, what should we do with them now?"
    - "We bring them back to Earth and watch them breed and see what happens from there...
    - "Aye! Aye! What could possibly go wrong?"

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas