Aug. 8 (UPI) — Tardigrades, pudgy microscopic eight-legged micro-animals that have survived in some of harshest environments on Earth, may now be the first living permanent inhabitants on the moon, experts believe.
Nova Spivack, the founder of the Arch Mission Foundation — which created the Israeli lunar lander that crashed into the moon last spring — believes the water-dwelling tardigrades survived the crash.
The Israel Aerospace Industries said the Beresheet lander failed to make a soft landing in the moon’s Sea of Serenity on its attempt in April, and plummeted into the lunar surface.
“Some are sealed in epoxy with 100 million human, plant and microorganism cells,” Spivack tweeted Tuesday. “Some are encapsulated onto the sticky side of a 1-centimeter square piece of Kapton tape that is sealed inside the disc stack. They cannot reproduce on the Moon.”
“It is not likely that cells can survive on the moon without a lot more protection from radiation. However the human cells, plant cells and micro-organisms we sent could be recovered, studied and their DNA extracted – perhaps to be cloned and regenerated, far in the future,” he added.
The Arch Mission Foundation suggested if any Earth-bound animal can survive the moon, it’s tardigrades, which are one of the few species that survived unscathed through the Earth’s five known extinctions.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine said tardigrades, also known as “water bears,” are one of few species that have been found in the deepest parts of oceans and tallest mountaintops — and their ability to hibernate for decades and regenerate makes them stand out.
“Tardigrades don’t necessarily need to be backed up,” the foundation said. “They are pretty hardy. But the other DNA we sent is a bit more fragile: humans.”