August 17, 2018 I wrote about treasures in Not Quite Plain Sight. I compared the Florida sea cow, the Manatee, and the microscopic Tardigrades, also known as water bears. To me they look alike and I find that amazing.
Well, the news flash came up on Wired.com. Spivack was a scientist on the project. One reason he included tardigrades in this project: “Tardigrades are known to enter dormant states in which all metabolic processes stop and the water in their cells is replaced by a protein that effectively turns the cells into glass. Scientists have revived tardigrades that have spent up to 10 years in this dehydrated state, although in some cases they may be able to survive much longer without water.”
Here is the website in case you want the full scoop https://www.wired.com/story/a-crashed-israeli-lunar-lander-spilled-tardigrades-on-the-moon/amp
The Israeli Lunar lander that crashed was called the Beresheet. And when I listened to the Israeli broadcast on line the word sounds like Beara Sheet! I found that humorous: water bear and bear a sheet! “But when the Israelis confirmed Beresheet had been destroyed, Spivack was faced with a distressing question: Did he just smear the toughest animal in the known universe across the surface of the moon?”
The short answer is yes. The big question is will they survive? Certainly these were dehydrated tardigrades, however, “Scientists are just beginning to understand how tardigrades manage to survive in so many unforgiving environments. It’s conceivable that as we learn more about tardigrades, we’ll discover ways to rehydrate them after much longer periods of dormancy.”
And then perhaps the news gets better? “As for whether any of the …. tardigrades are still intact, that’s anyone’s guess, but Spivack says there’s no reason to worry about water bears taking over the moon. Any lunar tardigrades found by future humans will have to be brought back to Earth or somewhere with an atmosphere in order to rehydrate them. Whether this will be enough to bring them back to life, however, remains to be seen.”
Evidently what they did is not illegal because it has been determined that the moon has “few of the necessary conditions for life and isn’t at risk of contamination.” But personally, I still find it weird.