(Water) bears… in… spaaaaace!

water bear (tardigrade)Maybe you took that recent opportunity to determine how long you personally would survive in the hard cold vacuum of space, but it’s a very safe bet that you didn’t rack up a whole ten days. [image from Wikimedia Commons]

That particular accolade goes to the tiny invertebrate animals known as “water bears” (or more correctly tardigrades). Examples of two species of the little critters were launched from Kazakhstan in a satellite and subsequently exposed to the vacuum for ten days, after which 68% were successfully rehydrated and went on to live exactly as normal. It appears they can take the vacuum in their stride, though the UV radiation is a bit of a problem.

I wonder if sea monkeys can survive in space? I remember my mum telling me that mine had to go away while I’d been at school… perhaps they went to catch a rocket in Kazakhstan? 🙁

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