The 4,444 small aquatic creatures known for their ability to survive in the most extreme environments will be the subject of a series of experiments on the International Space Station to reveal the secrets of their superpowers.
This 0.02-inch (0.5 mm) eight-legged creature, also known as water bear worm, was sent to the space station on May 3 on the SpaceX Dragon 22 supply mission as part of the Cell Science 04 experiment.
Tartarians inhabit almost all ecosystems on the planet. Including the most extreme habitats, such as the deep sea, volcanoes and the Arctic. According to NASA, this new experiment will test their adaptability in space under microgravity and high radiation conditions.
Scientists will store tardigrade animals on the space station for four generations to observe how their DNA changes over time.
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“We want to see what ‘skills’ [late animals] use to survive when they get to space and, eventually, their techniques. Future generations”, Thomas Boothby, an assistant professor at Laramie University in Wyoming and the experiment’s principal investigator, said in a NASA statement. “Are they the same or do they vary from generation to generation? We just don’t know what will happen. ”
tardigrades are already experienced space travelers. In September 2007, the European Space Agency (ESA) sent a group of tardigrades to travel in a FOTONM3 unmanned spacecraft for 12 days. Most of the colonies are in space. They survived exposure to vacuum and cosmic rays. Some people even managed to overcome solar ultraviolet radiation which is 1,000 times higher in orbit than the Earth’s surface. Previous experiments on Earth have shown that tardigrade animals can produce more antioxidants. – -These substances will slow down the growth and damage of cells- when faced with more radiation.
Cell Science04 Researchers hope that experiment
can find out whether the same thing happens in a microgravity environment. NASA said that scientists will also study how pressure from space flight turns on and off various tardigrade animal genes.
“Verifying which genes are also activated or inactivated by other stresses will help identify genes that specifically respond to space flight. Then, Cell Science 04 will test which genes are adapted to tardigrade animals in this high-stress environment And survival is really necessary,” NASA added.
These organisms will reside on hardware called the biological culture system manufactured by NASA’s Ames Research Center. This hardware enables Earth scientists to remotely inspect microscopic organisms or cell and tissue cultures, while adjusting the environment to their wishes.
“In the long term, revealing what makes tardigrade animals so tolerant can lead to protection of biological materials, such as food and medicine, from extreme temperatures, dryness, and radiation exposure. This will be useful for exploration long-term deep space missions. Very precious, “NASA said. “For the water bear, this is the potential of a superhero.”