Meet a tardigrade, also known as a water bear. A few thousand of them (dehydrated) were sent to the moon on the Beresheet spacecraft, which crashed on April 22, 2019. They’re cute … right? Image via Eye of Science/Science Source/ScienceNews.
Tardigrades – also known as water bears – are some of the toughest and most resilient creatures on Earth, even though they are virtually microscopic in size, less than a millimeter long. They’re known to be able to survive almost any environment you can throw them into, even space. Now, it seems that some of them (or possibly their remains) are calling the moon home, thanks to a crash landing of a spacecraft a few months ago. But while tardigrades might be hardy, there’s no reason to think they’ll be taking over our nearest celestial neighbor, any time soon.
The tardigrades were part of a “lunar library” sent to the moon on Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft. That library was a project of the Arch Mission Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to create “a backup of planet Earth.” The library, the size of a DVD, included 30 million pages of information, human DNA samples and thousands of dehydrated tardigrades.