That’s one tiny step for a moss piglet.
An Israeli spacecraft that crashed on the moon during a recent attempt at a soft landing had thousands of Earthlings aboard – virtually indestructible tardigrades, also known as “water bears” or “moss piglets.”.
The microscopic creatures — which can withstand extreme radiation, blistering heat, the coldest temperatures in the universe and even decades without food – likely made it out alive, an American organization responsible for their trip said Tuesday.
Based on an analysis of the Beresheet lander’s trajectory and the composition of the device the piglets were stored in, “we believe the chances of survival for the tardigrades… are extremely high,” Nova Spivack, co-founder of The Arch Mission Foundation, told AFP.
“Tardigrades are ideal to include because they are microscopic, multicellular, and one of the most durable forms of life on planet Earth,” Spivack added.
The puny, pudgy creatures are under a millimeter long, but have eight legs with claws, as well as a brain, central nervous system and a sucker-like pharynx behind their mouth.
They had been dehydrated to place them in suspended animation, then “encased in an epoxy of Artificial Amber, and should be revivable in the future,” Spivack said.
In a bid to create a “Noah’s ark” or a “back-up” for the Earth, the nonprofit organization also sent a “Lunar Library” nanotechnology device containing a 30-million-page archive of human history.
“We chose them because they are special. They are the toughest form of life we know of. They can survive practically any planetary cataclysm,” Spivack told CNN. “They can survive in the vacuum of space, they can survive radiation.”
If the animals did not burn up in an explosion, they can withstand near-zero pressure in outer space and survive the tiny pressure and extreme temps on the lunar surface, William Miller, a tardigrades expert at Baker University, told AFP.
“But to become active, to grow, eat, and reproduce they would need water, air and food,” so it would not be possible for them to multiply and form a colony, he added.
NASA astrobiologist Cassie Conley said the creatures’ survival time would depend on the condition of the impact site and the temperatures to which they are exposed.
“If they don’t get too hot, it’s possible they could survive for quite a long time (many years),” she told AFP.
“I’d be more concerned that the animals would be affected by toxic chemicals from the epoxy or glue” used to store them, as opposed to conditions in space, she added.
But even if they live for several years, it is unlikely that they will make it back home anytime soon.
There are no crewed missions to the moon planned until NASA’s Artemis program in 2024 at the south pole — far from Beresheet’s crash site on the Sea of Serenity.
“It is unlikely that they will be rescued in time, so my guess is that, even if they survived, they are doomed,” said Rafael Alves Batista, a physicist at Sao Paulo University who co-authored a 2017 paper on tardigrades.
Researchers hope that along with the tardigrades, most of the information from the lunar library also has survived the impact — and could be used to regenerate human life in the distant future.
Spivack told CNN that the “best-case scenario is that the little library is fully intact, sitting on a nice sandy hillside on the moon for a billion years.
“In the distant future it might be recovered by our descendants or by a future form of intelligent life that might evolve long after we’re gone,” he said.
Click Here: bape jacket cheap