Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Boldly go, where no man, woman, kitty, ferret, dingo...

Say hello to the "water bear".  Or rather tardigrades, as they are more commonly known (by who, I don't know, cause for most I guarantee they have heard of neither term).

Tardigrades are small, water-dwelling segmented animals with eight legs.  The biggest adults may reach a body length of 1.5mm, the smallest below 0.1mm. Freshly hatched larvae may be smaller than 0.05mm.

Tardigrades are able to survive in extreme environments that would kill almost any other animal. Some can survive temperatures close to absolute zero, temperatures as high as 151 °C (303 °F), 1,000 times more radiation than any other animal, nearly a decade without water, and now, even the vacuum of space.

That's right folks, scientists have taken two species of tardigrades and ventured them into the great beyond on an ESA satellite a year ago.  After 10 days in space, the little guys were brought back for study.  It was found that the Sun's UV rays, 1,000 times stronger in space than here on Earth, would oddly act as tardigrade Kryptonite.  Of those shielded from the rays, nearly 70% went on to reproduce successfully.  Of those exposed to the Sun, almost all of them died.  Still, the intrepid buggers are now the first creature ever known to be able to survive in open space.


What's this mean?  It means we're learning, all the time folks.  Dream, people.  Cause it's all possible.

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