'Water Bears' Able To Survive Exposure To Vacuum Of Space

ScienceDaily (Sep. 9, 200 — Of all environments, space must be the most hostile: It is freezing cold, close to absolute zero, there is a vacuum, so no oxygen, and the amount of lethal radiation from stars is very high. This is why humans need to be carefully protected when they enter this environment.

Water bear (tardigrade), Hypsibius dujardini, scanning electron micrograph by Bob Goldstein, tardigrades.bio.unc.edu/ (external - login to view) (Credit: Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

New research by Ingemar Jönsson and colleagues published in the September 9 issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press journal, shows that some animals —the so-called tardigrades or 'water-bears'— are able to do away with space suits and can survive exposure to open-space vacuum, cold and radiation.

This is the first time that any animal has been tested for survival under open-space conditions. The test subjects were chosen with great care: Tardigrades —also known as water-bears— are tiny invertebrate animals from 0.1 to 1.5mm in size that can be easily found on wet lichens and mosses. Because their homes often fall dry, tardigrades are very resistant to drying out and can resurrect after years of dryness. Along with this amazing survival trick comes extreme resistance to heat, cold and radiation —so tardigrades seemed like an ideal animal to test in space.

The dried-up tardigrades were aboard the FOTON-M3 spacecraft launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) in September 2007 and were exposed to open space conditions —i.e. to vacuum, UV radiation from the sun and cosmic radiation— in a low Earth orbit of around 270km altitude. After their safe return to Earth, it turned out that while most of them survived exposure to vacuum and cosmic rays alone, some had even survived the exposure to the deadly levels of solar UV radiation, which are more than 1000 times higher than on the surface of the Earth. Even more so, the survivors could reproduce fine after their space trip.

The tardigrades extreme resistance to UV radiation is perhaps most surprising. UV rays consist of high-energy light particles that cause severe damage to tissue, as is evident when you get a sun-burn. But more so, they can also damage the cell's genetic material, causing for instance skin cancers. For this reason UV is deadly for most organisms —it is even used as a sterilising agent. As Jönsson and colleagues write: "How these animals were capable of reviving their body after receiving a dose of UV radiation of more than 7000 kJm-2 under space vacuum conditions […] remains a mystery." It is conceivable that the same cellular adaptations that let them survive drying out might also account for their overall hardiness.

The researchers include K. Ingemar Jönsson, Kristianstad University, Kristianstad, Sweden; Elke Rabbow, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Radiation Biology Division, Köln, Germany; Ralph O. Schill, Biological Institute, Universität Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany; Mats Harms-Ringdahl, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; and Petra Rettberg, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Radiation Biology Division, Köln, Germany.
poor ol tardigrades. I'm informing PETA.

the very idea!!

if one multicellular lifeform can survive the rigours of exposure to space, perhaps others can... and for long periods of time? perhaps?
Quote: Originally Posted by hermanntrudeView Post

if one multicellular lifeform can survive the rigours of exposure to space, perhaps others can... and for long periods of time? perhaps?

absolutely. We just need to find ways to essentially freeze dry everything going out, and rehydrate it all on the way back into viable, thought capable tissue. Simple.
Check out mushroom spores. Something about hardiness there as well and the supposed ability to survive space and transit of same. Christ we are weak and stupid.
THE MUSHROOM SPEAKS by Terence McKenna (external - login to view)

I am old, older than thought in your species, which is itself fifty times older than your history. Though I have been on earth for ages I am from the stars. My home is not one planet, for many worlds scattered through the shining disc of the galaxy have conditions which allow my spores an opportunity for life. The mushroom which you see is the part of my body given to sex thrills and sun bathing, my true body is a fine network (external - login to view) of fibers growing through the soil. These networks may cover acres and may have far more connections than the number in a human brain.
My mycelial network is nearly immortal (external - login to view)--only the sudden toxification of a planet or the explosion of it's parent star can wipe me out. By means impossible to explain because of certain misconceptions in your model of reality (external - login to view) all my mycelial networks in the galaxy are in hyper (external - login to view)-light (external - login to view) communication through space and time (external - login to view).
The mycelial body is as fragile as a spider's web but the collective hypermind and memory (external - login to view) is a vast historical archive of the career of evolving (external - login to view) intelligence on many worlds in our spiral star swarm. Space, you see, is a vast ocean to those hardy life forms that have the ability to reproduce from spores, for spores are covered with the hardest organic substance known.
Across the aeons of time and space drift many spore forming life-forms in suspended animation for millions of years until contact (external - login to view) is made with a suitable environment. Few such species are minded, only myself and my recently evolved near relatives have achieved the hyper-communication mode and memory capacity that makes us leading members in the community of galactic intelligence. How the hyper-communication mode operates is a secret which will not be lightly given to humans.
But the means should be obvious: it is the occurence of psilocybin (external - login to view) and psilocin in the biosynthetic pathways of my living body that opens for me and my symbiots the

Certainly it's a bit sensationally presented but maybe academias done something more recent along these lines. However the essential point is the survivability of space, and the question is of course what motivated evolution to provide transitory life forms, could the cataclyismic model of the universe be indicated here with these life forms. It seems the evolutionary process has made provision for or adaptation to space transit without mechanical contrivance of the familiar kind.DB
Last edited by darkbeaver; Sep 10th, 2008 at 08:23 AM..

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