August 06, 2019
Scientists believe the Beresheet’s unusual cargo may be alive and well on the moon
Tardigrades may have survived spacecraft crashing on moon
The odds of finding life on the moon have suddenly rocketed skywards. But rather than elusive alien moonlings, the beings in question came from Earth and were spilled across the landscape when a spacecraft crashed into the surface.
The Israeli Beresheet probe was meant to be the first private lander to touch down on the moon. And all was going smoothly until mission controllers lost contact in April as the robotic craft made its way down. Beyond all the technology that was lost in the crash, Beresheet had an unusual cargo: a few thousand tiny tardigrades, the toughest animals on Earth.
Now, the organisation behind the tardigrades’ trip, the US-based Arch Mission Foundation – whose goal is to find a backup for Earth – has said the organisms may well have shrugged off the collision. “Our payload may be the only surviving thing from that mission,” Nova Spivack, the organisation’s founder, told Wired magazine.
Tardigrades have fascinated scientists since their discovery in the 18th century by the German zoologist and pastor Johann August Ephraim Goeze. The millimetre-long animals, sometimes known as water bears or moss piglets after their favoured environment and food, resemble cheerful eight-legged maggots wearing distinctly sphincter-like faces.
But it is not their appearance that has made their name. Tardigrades are considered the hardiest animals on Earth. They have been found on mountain tops, in scorching deserts, and lurking in subglacial lakes in Antarctica. In his book The Hidden Powers of Animals, Dr Karl Shuker claimed the beasts survived being frozen in liquid helium and being boiled at 149C.
The tardigrade’s secret is the ability to shrivel into a seed-like pod, expelling nearly all of its water and slashing its metabolism. In this “tun” state, the animals can hunker down and survive conditions that would normally be swiftly fatal. In 2007, scientists discovered that inactive tardigrades are so tough they can survive the harsh radiation and frigid vacuum of space travel.
And so it came to be that there is life on the moon, probably. Lukasz Kaczmarek, a tardigrade expert and astrobiologist at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, said the animals may well have survived the crash landing. “Tardigrades can survive pressures that are comparable to those created when asteroids strike Earth, so a small crash like this is nothing to them,” he said. The animals could potentially survive on the moon for years, he added.
Dehydrated tardigrades have been revived after years in an inactive state by plunging them into water. Once rehydrated, the animals become active again and feed and reproduce as normal. There is little chance of that happening to those that are lost in space, however. “They cannot colonise the moon because there is no atmosphere and no liquid water,” Kaczmarek said. “But it could be possible to bring them back to Earth and then add the water. They should resurrect.”
Kaczmarek is exploring whether the ageing process itself grinds to a halt in dormant tardigrades, through what he calls a Sleeping Beauty model. He said it appears that a tardigrade that enters a tun state at one month old emerges with the same biological age when it is revived a decade later. “It is really amazing,” he said. “It may be that we can use this in the future if we plan missions to different planets, because we will need to be young when we get there.”
Philippe Reekie, an astrobiologist and PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, agreed that there was no reason to think dehydrated tardigrades would not survive on the moon. “I would imagine they would survive for some time,” he said. “The main problem with the moon is the vacuum and the high radiation, but tardigrades are proven to survive those conditions.”
But he cautioned that if the tardigrades were in an active state on impact, they may well have met their end. “In their normal state, you can kill them quite easily,” he said. “We accidentally killed loads by accident because we subjected them to the extreme cold too fast.”
Because the moon is considered lifeless, Nasa’s office of planetary protection does not frown on missions that spill Earthly organisms on its surface. After all, the Apollo astronauts left behind their own microbes in the 96 bags of human waste that await some future cleaner on the moon. Had the spacecraft spilled its living cargo on Mars, the story might be very different.
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Issa Rae and Yvonne Orji Dish on Season 5 of ‘Insecure’
October 22, 2021
KA7ZEjY3rvk
Kristen Stewart Opens Up on 'Eternals' LGBTQ Inclusion, Ruby Rose Battles with WarnerBros | The Take
October 21, 2021
7d3MFpaP2L8
AT&T Stock Falls Following Q3 Earnings Results
October 21, 2021
LZNkmpoVefA
Marriage Addiction, Big Ed Returns & Mailman Affair
October 26, 2021
-ToLxI1zOmw
Meg's Delivery, Ciara's Dinner & "DWTS" Horror Night
October 26, 2021
0W5ayUWdjho
Drew Barrymore & Ex Tom Green Reunite for 1st Time in 20 Years | E! News
October 26, 2021
U7lM-EPB9UA
Adam Levine addresses fan grabbing him during Maroon 5 performance | Page Six Celebrity News
October 27, 2021
81owF0TCJtI
Angelina Jolie says her kids can borrow ‘anything’ in her closet: ‘Take it’ | Page Six
October 27, 2021
xpjGjm8bnpo
Wendy Williams’ ex-husband Kevin Hunter is engaged to Sharina Hudson | Page Six Celebrity News
October 27, 2021
sqaYVw39mEU
The TMZ Celebrity Tour Meets the Fake De Niro | TMZ TV
October 26, 2021
KAgksJS0VfU
Tarek El Moussa And Heather Rae Young Get Married in Montecito | TMZ TV
October 26, 2021
WOVxOhxb8Gs
Alec Baldwin 'Rust' Actor Says Camera Was Protected During Shooting, Not Actors | TMZ
October 25, 2021
bASh7PtfiPU
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
19
Nov
ASIAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group H
Sydney FC - Shanghai SIPG
17
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Spain - Germany
14
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Germany - Ukraine
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Liverpool
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Aston Villa
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Valencia - Real Madrid
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Verona
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Bromwich Albion - Tottenham Hotspur
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Bologna - Napoli
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Genoa - Roma
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Atalanta - Inter Milan
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Lazio - Juventus
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayer Leverkusen - Borussia Monchengladbach
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leicester City - Wolves
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Wolfsburg - Hoffenheim
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Valladolid - Athletic Bilbao
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Levante - Alaves
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Sociedad - Granada CF
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Torino - Crotone
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Getafe - Villarreal
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund - Bayern Munich
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Everton - Manchester United
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Sheffield United
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Cadiz
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Real Betis
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Augsburg - Hertha Berlin
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Stuttgart - Eintracht Frankfurt
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
RB Leipzig - SC Freiburg
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Rotherham - Preston NE
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Parma - Fiorentina
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Watford - Coventry
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Norwich City - Swansea City
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Blackburn - QPR
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Derby County - Barnsley
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Huddersfield - Luton
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Nottingham Forest - Wycombe Wanderers
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Ham United - Fulham
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Sheffield Wednesday - Millwall
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Brentford - Middlesbrough
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Birmingham - Bournemouth
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Sevilla - Osasuna
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Benevento - Spezia
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Crystal Palace - Leeds
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Ferencvaros - Juventus
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Barcelona - Dynamo K.
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group A
Salzburg - Bayern Munich
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group D
Atalanta - Liverpool
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.