Now We Have Moon Tardigrades – Thanks, Israel

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Seriously Though, Thanks, Israel! Now We Have Moon Tardigrades!

The mighty tardigrade up close and personal

The mighty tardigrade up close and personal

Back in April, Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft crashed on the Moon. Even though it was a crash landing, the event did make Beresheet the first commercial spacecraft to land on the Moon. Beresheet’s payload included a very special package from a non-profit organization called the Arch Mission Foundation. The package included the first lunar library. Nova Spivak, the founder of the Arch Mission Foundation, hoped this would be the beginning of a “backup of planet earth,” which it’s the foundation’s mission to create. He and his team assembled an archive the size of a DVD. It contained 30 million pages of information, Human DNA and other samples, and now, Moon Tardigrades.  That’s right. Moon Tardigrades.

What the Hell Is a Tardigrade?

Tardigrades are these cool little life forms that exist here on earth. They can survive in just about the harshest conditions we can throw at them – including space. That pretty much makes them the toughest creatures alive.

Scientists are only beginning to uncover all of the secrets these little microorganisms have for us. For example, the fact that we know they can survive in space helps the theory of panspermia, which posits that life spread across the universe on asteroids with creatures like tardigrades. 

The mighty tardigrade - the toughest creature on earth

The mighty tardigrade – the toughest creature on earth

So, What? The Lunar Surface is Crawling with Moon Tardigrades Now?

Well… not exactly. See the Tardigrades were dehydrated, so they’re in a state of suspended animation. They can be revived up to ten years later by adding water. Seriously. Not only that, it turns out that the microscopic space bears may have saved the actual library, though. 

The original plans for the lunar library didn’t include tardigrades. The DVD sized object is made using some of the most advanced data compression technology available today. Comprised of 25 layers of ultra-thin nickel, the first four layers contain over 60,000 high-resolution images of books. They also contain language primers, nearly the entire English version of Wikipedia, and even the secrets of magic. Yep. All of David Copperfield’s to be exact. Originally, Spivak planned to send the DNA samples and the tardigrades on a later mission. Then, just before they had to send the library to the Israelis, Spivak changed his mind. He had engineers put a thin layer of epoxy between each of the nickel layers. Inside that epoxy, he preserved human hair and cell samples, as well as thousands of tardigrades. 

A Happy Accident

It turns out that decision may have saved the library. After analysis, officials at the Arch Mission Foundation are confident that the library survived the crash. Now it’s up to future generations to revive those tough little Moon tardigrades and see what they can really do!

Humans will be back on the Moon in a few years. We’ll establish several bases and research stations. And now those stations will have a library and a bunch of tough little organisms to learn from.


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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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1 Response

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  2. They tardigraded the $#%! out of Star Trek: Discovery. That was a really interesting premise. Basically they were multi-dimensional creatures that were able to travel the universe in a instant.

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