The Final Frontier…
Or at least it would be if you were a frail and weak human being.
For the microscopic species of the tardigrades, on the other hand, space may have been their first frontier.
How come, you ask? They may have come from space.
How did scientists arrive at this seemingly preposterous theory?
Tardigrades can survive in the vacuum of space whilst being bombarded by deadly cosmic rays and solar radiation combined… for ten days.
“DANGEROUS SPACE? DID YOU MEAN HOME SWEET HOME?”
They found this out when they took some tardigrades along for a 12-day orbital trip in 2007.
Some of the tardigrades on the European-funded Foton-M3 spacecraft were indeed killed by the extreme conditions, but upon returning to earth they came back to life.
That’s right. ZOMBIE TARDIGRADES.
Apart from being able to withstand death itself, they can also withstand temperatures as low as −273 °C (−459 °F) and as high as 151 °C (304 °F).
“THIS IS TARDIGRADE, COMING IN FOR LANDING. LZ IS HOT. BUT LIKE. NO BIGGIE.”
Tardigrades can also survive under pressure levels as high as 6,000 atmospheres. That’s six times the pressure of water in the deepest ocean trench, the Mariana trench.
“OH HULLO! IT’S A TAD STUFFY IN HERE SO LEMME JUST STRETCH OUT.”
Oh and see those things on the ends of its eight (that’s right. EIGHT.) arms? Those be claws.
That’s right. CLAWS.
“RAWR! DON’T MESS WITH TARDIGRADES, BUB.”
Tardigrades are also called water bears.
“DISTANT COUSINS. 99,999,999 TIMES REMOVED.”
But even if there wasn’t any water around they’d be cool with it because they’d just go into cryptobiosis mode.
“NO WATER = NAP TIME”
You know. Like a cryogenic chamber where they freeze you so you don’t need to eat or drink?
Except they don’t need advanced scientific research and technology. They just… you know… do it.
“TO SUMMON MY PRESENCE: JUST ADD WATER.”
A tardigrade nap can last up to 10 years without water. And should a tardigrade find water in 10 year gaps, then it could technically survive for over a hundred years.
“WHAT’S THAT, SONNY? I CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER MY OWN AWESOMENESS.”
To educate yourself further on the topic of tardigrades, please watch the video below. And you should too, since we’ll one day be ruled by our tardigradian overlords.