A lifeform from Earth likely survived a crash on the moon. Tardigrades carried by the Beresheet lander may have survived after the Israeli spacecraft crashed on the lunar surface earlier this year.
Tardigrades In Beresheet's Cargo
The Beresheet probe was carrying a payload that includes thousands of dehydrated tardigrades when it suffered a catastrophic failure during its final descent in April.
The spacecraft crashed into the lunar surface at high speed, but experts think that the virtually indestructible creatures, may have survived the crash.
Toughest Animal On Earth
Tardigrades are considered the toughest animals on our planet. They can survive long periods without food and water. They can live in the coldest part of Antarctica, in extreme heat, and under the sea.
Lukasz Kaczmarek, a tardigrade expert and astrobiologist at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, described the extraordinary resilience of these creatures, also known as water bears.
They can survive pressures comparable to those created by asteroids that strike Earth. This means that a small crash such as the one that involved the Beresheet spacecraft is essentially nothing for them.
Kaczmarek added that the animals could also potentially survive on the moon for years.
Tardigrades On The Moon Cannot Reproduce
Nova Spivack, the founder of the Arch Mission Foundation that sent up the hardy creatures to the moon, nonetheless said that the tardigrades that were sent to the moon cannot reproduce on the lunar surface.
"About the Tardigrades in the Lunar Library: Some are sealed in epoxy with 100 million human, plant and microorganism cells. Some are encapsulated onto the sticky side of a 1cm square piece of Kapton tape that is sealed inside the disc stack. They cannot reproduce on the Moon," Spivack tweeted on Aug. 6.
While they cannot spawn in space, Spivack said these creatures could still be revived in the future. Dehydrated tardigrades have been revived after years of being in an inactive state by just placing them into water.
Once rehydrated, tardigrades become active again, feed, and reproduce normally.
The likelihood that this could happen to the water bears that were lost in space, however, is quite low.
Kaczmarek said that tardigrades cannot colonize the moon because of the absence of liquid water and atmosphere. They can only be possibly resurrected by bringing them back to Earth and plunging them into water.