UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — “Passengers” of the Israeli lunar mission Beresheet could survive the crash, biologists say. We are talking about tardigrades – tiny creatures known for their vitality.
“We spoke in detail about the first private lunar probe Beresheet. Recall that on April 11, 2019, it crashed while trying to soft land in the Sea of Clarity.
In addition to scientific instruments, the apparatus carried on board digital recordings of various kinds (from sacred texts to Wikipedia articles) and several thousand living, but dehydrated tardigrades. They were sent to the moon by the non-profit organization Arch Mission Foundation.
When dried, these creatures about a millimeter in size fall into the so-called cryptobiosis. All life processes in them cease, but this is not death. Tardigrades, placed in the water, leaves its “lethargy” in a few hours.
In a state of cryptobiosis, tardigrades are incredibly tenacious. They withstand temperatures from -272 to 151 degrees Celsius, very low and very high pressures, impressive doses of radiation.
According to some biologists, the collapse of the apparatus was not supposed to kill such unpretentious “passengers”.
“Tardigrades, when dried, can withstand pressure 74 times the pressure we experience at sea level, so [probe collapse] should not have become a problem for them,” explains zoologist Roberto Guidetti from Modena University and Reggio Emilia in the material publication Business Insider -. They can be dried for decades , and perhaps centuries.”
However, not everything is so cloudless. The surface of the moon over a long lunar day is heated up to more than 100 ° C. And even these very hardy creatures are not able to endure such heat for a long time.
“A temperature of around 100 degrees Celsius and above will kill these animals pretty quickly,” says biologist Ingemar Jönsson of Kristianstad University in Sweden.
Also a danger to tardigrades is the ultraviolet radiation of the sun.
However, it is possible that during the disaster of the apparatus, the animals were buried in the ground. Such a “shelter” is able to protect them from exposure, and from the heat of the moon. In this case, tardigrades may well be in a state of cryptobiosis for several decades, if not centuries (although, of course, hardly anyone will find them and immerse them in life-giving moisture).
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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