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 981 notes
  1. clamadeu reblogged this from sciencesoup and added:
    scary and awesome
  2. i-feelnumb-inside reblogged this from sciencesoup
  3. arcawriter reblogged this from proseandpassion
  4. kurtanrat reblogged this from proseandpassion
  5. proseandpassion reblogged this from quietcoimetromaniac
  6. quietcoimetromaniac reblogged this from sciencesoup
  7. myvansaretoobig reblogged this from sciencesoup
  8. sarahnolanastrobiology reblogged this from astrobiologybiochemistry
  9. astrobiologybiochemistry reblogged this from sciencesoup
  10. brainsx reblogged this from sciencesoup
  11. pictureagarden reblogged this from sciencesoup
  12. motherofjudas reblogged this from miglich
  13. tssffft reblogged this from sciencesoup
  14. dsharpminor reblogged this from sciencesoup
  15. liplines reblogged this from sciencesoup
  16. ceremonialls reblogged this from lovelymindlonelyheart
  17. lovelymindlonelyheart reblogged this from sciencesoup
  18. paperandwires reblogged this from sciencesoup
  19. stansusedbloggingemporium reblogged this from sadsnails
  20. sadsnails reblogged this from citruscandy
  21. tonarino reblogged this from citruscandy
  22. dragonfroyo reblogged this from iamlittlei
  23. noxxoirose reblogged this from citruscandy
  24. myjacketsayshi reblogged this from citruscandy
  25. dinowsawruss reblogged this from citruscandy
  26. missmarjorine reblogged this from transmahirukoizumi and added:
    Tardigrades!!
  27. transmahirukoizumi reblogged this from citruscandy
  28. flowerbucky reblogged this from citruscandy
  29. racoonasheldon reblogged this from citruscandy