Monday, December 15, 2008
Back in October 2007, I blogged on an experiment involving putting tardigrades into space.
I've only just noticed that the results are in. Here are a few excerpts:
"...many of the tardigrades survived the trip in space, and a few of them became the first animals to return alive after exposure to both space vacuum and solar radiation."
"...the space vacuum and cosmic radiation did not affect their survival or reproduction at all. This was true for both Richtersius coronifer and Milnesium tardigradum. What this means is that these animals can either protect their cells from expected damage of the extremely dehydration impact of space vacuum, or that they can repair the damage."
"...our experiment gives rise to more questions than answers. How could these animals stand the extreme dehydration by space vacuum (at a pressure in the range of 0.00001 Pa compared to 100 000 Pa on Earth)? How could some of the tardigrades survive a dose of UV-A and UV-B of over 7000 kJ/sqm and still produce offspring? What molecular mechanisms are behind these remarkable achievements?..."