29th Sep 2012

Water Bears In Space

These magnificent and slightly terrifying creatures are tardigrades—stocky organisms less than 1mm long, also known as “water bears”. They’re found all over the world, from deserts to the Arctic, but they always need water to perform necessary biological processes. However, if their habitats dry up or they’re exposed to physical or chemical extremes, they can enter a state of total metabolic shutdown called anhydrobiosis, and survive in this state for years—then, when conditions are right again, they can just spring back to life. Anhydrobiosis involves processes at molecular and physiological levels, but basically, when cells become stressed through dehydration, ‘bioprotectors’ are formed to protect the cell’s important molecules and minimise cell damage. Tardigrades are nicknamed the hardiest creatures on Earth, and they appear to be just as hardy above it, too. In 2007, an experiment launched them into a 10-day orbit, and proved that they can survive exposure to the sub-zero temperatures, intense radiation, and oxygen-deprived vacuum of space. Now they’re part of Project Biokis, a program sponsored by the Italian Space Agency that aims to study creatures like tardigrades and develop techniques to protect other organisms—humans especially—from the extreme conditions of space.

(Image Credit: 1, 2)

This post has 971 notes
  1. myvansaretoobig reblogged this from sciencesoup
  2. sarahnolanastrobiology reblogged this from astrobiologybiochemistry
  3. astrobiologybiochemistry reblogged this from sciencesoup
  4. brainsx reblogged this from sciencesoup
  5. pictureagarden reblogged this from sciencesoup
  6. motherofjudas reblogged this from miglich
  7. tssffft reblogged this from sciencesoup
  8. dsharpminor reblogged this from sciencesoup
  9. proseandpassion reblogged this from sciencesoup
  10. liplines reblogged this from sciencesoup
  11. ceremonialls reblogged this from lovelymindlonelyheart
  12. lovelymindlonelyheart reblogged this from sciencesoup
  13. paperandwires reblogged this from sciencesoup
  14. its-a-funyarinpa reblogged this from sadsnails
  15. sadsnails reblogged this from citruscandy
  16. tonarino reblogged this from citruscandy
  17. frigid-prostitute reblogged this from iamlittlei
  18. noxxoirose reblogged this from citruscandy
  19. myjacketsayshi reblogged this from citruscandy
  20. dinowsawruss reblogged this from citruscandy
  21. missmarjorine reblogged this from marinebluey and added:
    Tardigrades!!
  22. marinebluey reblogged this from citruscandy
  23. flowerbucky reblogged this from citruscandy
  24. racoonasheldon reblogged this from citruscandy
  25. handsomebenders reblogged this from citruscandy
  26. citruscandy reblogged this from jimmynewland
  27. msformel reblogged this from iamlittlei
  28. yunpes reblogged this from iamlittlei
  29. iamlittlei reblogged this from quixoticandabsurd and added:
    Favorites!
  30. quixoticandabsurd reblogged this from sciencesoup