Can the World's Toughest Animal Survive Space?
For the first time, scientists have exposed living animals to the harsh vacuum and radiation of open space.
Two weeks ago, a team of scientists led by Ingemar Jönsson from Kristianstad University in Sweden launched tiny animals called tardigrades into orbit, aboard a Russian satellite.
Many scientists believe that tardigrades are the only animals capable of coming back alive after a trip to open space but until now, this has never been tested. The satellite has returned to Earth and Jonsson will be able to work out if the tardigrades survived, and how they did so.
Tardigrades, or 'water bears' are small, aquatic creatures that could well be the hardest animals on the planet.
Despite being just a millimetre long, they can survive extreme environments that would kill almost any other animal, including extreme heat and temperatures close to absolute zero.
Their resilience lies in their ability to enter a dry dormant state where they replace almost all the water in their bodies with a type of sugar. They can stay like this for years and return to normal with just a drop of water.
Tags: Tardigrades | Space | Survival