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What In The World Are Tardigrades, & How Have They Found Their Way To The Moon?

Tardigrades are probably the weirdest animal you've never heard of, and could well be resilient enough to survive life on the moon.

We have almost reached the point where humankind has explored every single inch of the planet we call home. That's why we are quickly becoming more and more interested in what lies beyond our humble planet, and how we can go about traveling through space to these other worlds, perhaps in search of other lifeforms like us.

Scientists believe that the answer to traveling through space for extended periods of time lies in a creature we discovered here on Earth during the 1980s. The tardigrade, which is affectionately nicknamed the water bear. The millimeter long creatures were first found by explorers in Antarctica, reports Vox. The tardigrades were kept frozen for more than 30 years, and when they were thawed out, they behaved as if nothing had happened and no time had passed at all.

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It appears as if tardigrades can survive in any climate on Earth, but now they will be tasked with surviving on the moon. Earlier this year, Israel attempted to land a craft on the moon. However, the mission failed and the spacecraft crash-landed. It's believed that some of the elements on the ship survived though, including a "library" that contained tardigrades, among other things.

The aim of the library aboard the craft was for something to exist on the moon that points towards the existence of human beings long after we have gone extinct. The inclusion of tardigrades stems from their ability to survive, and that if any creature is going to be able to survive on the moon for an extended period of time, it would be those little water bears.

Tardigrades are able to survive for such long periods of time in extreme climates by slowing down their metabolism by 99.99% and becoming tuns. Scientists have been studying them to try and discover how their unique abilities can be used for us to travel deep into space in the future. Exciting stuff, and also like something that has been lifted right out of a science fiction novel. It's real though, we swear.

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