Sep 14, 2008

Water Bears : First Animal to Survive in Space

The findings of a new study published in a US science journal says that tardigrades or water bears can survive in space. It was for the first time, an animal has been tested for survival in space without any protection. And the water bears proved that they are the toughest animals on the planet by becoming the first animals to survive in space, without protection. The study was supported by the European Space Agency, was headed by Dr Ingemar Jonsson, of the University of Kristianstad, Sweden.

Tardigrades or water bears are very small eight-legged invertebrate creatures that are commonly found on wet lichens and moss. They are just 0.1 to 1.5 mm long and exists in nearly all ecosystems of the world. They are resistant to drying out, heat, cold and radiation, and can be brought back to life after years of dryness.

One year ago, about 3000 water bears were dried and taken into space to test if they could handle the cosmic rays, a near vacuum and freezing cold of the space. They were kept in a chamber of the FOTON-M3 spacecraft as it orbited 270km above the Earth 270km. And after 10 days, scientists found that some of them survived. They even survived the exposure to extreme solar UV radiation that is more than 1,000 times higher than UV radiation on the Earth's surface.


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