Hordes of tardigrades may be living on Moon (tough physiology for Lunar environment)


EXCERPT: There might be life on the Moon after all: thousands of virtually indestructible creatures that can withstand extreme radiation, sizzling heat, the coldest temperatures of the universe, and decades without food. These terrifying-sounding beings aren't aliens but instead microscopic Earthlings known as tardigrades, who likely made it out alive following a crash landing on the lunar surface by Israel's Beresheet probe in April, the US-based organization responsible for their trip said Tuesday.

Based on an analysis of the spacecraft's trajectory and the composition of the device the micro-animals were stored in, "we believe the chances of survival for the tardigrades... are extremely high," Nova Spivack, co-founder and chairman of the Arch Mission Foundation, told AFP. The non-profit is dedicated to spreading backups of human knowledge and Earth's biology throughout the Solar System, a quest it likens to the creation of an "Encyclopedia Galactica" first evoked by sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov.

"Tardigrades are ideal to include because they are microscopic, multicellular, and one of the most durable forms of life on planet Earth," said Spivack.

[...] If they did not burn up in an explosion, they could in theory survive the tiny pressure on the lunar surface, and the extremes of temperature, William Miller, a tardigrades expert at Baker University, told AFP. "But to become active, to grow, eat, and reproduce they would need water, air and food," so it would not be possible for them to multiply and form a colony, he added.

NASA astrobiologist Cassie Conley said that their exact survival time would depend on the condition of the impact site and the temperatures to which they are exposed. "If they don't get too hot, it's possible they could survive for quite a long time (many years)," she told AFP. "I'd be more concerned that the animals would be affected by toxic chemicals from the epoxy or glue" used to store them, as opposed to conditions in space, she added. (MORE - details)
If on the moon they evolve into intelligent creatures some day, will they look at a dead Earth and say it’s the home of their gods? By then they would be familiar with all the machinery and debris we left behind. Leaves me with this thought, will anything manmade currently on the moon’s surface be subject to a decay and if so how long until there’s no evidence of us ever being there?
(Aug 7, 2019 12:46 PM)Zinjanthropos Wrote: Leaves me with this thought, will anything manmade currently on the moon’s surface be subject to a decay and if so how long until there’s no evidence of us ever being there?

Estimates range from 10 million to 100 million years before the junk yards are all gone. With no significant atmosphere to dampen the effects of high-velocity intruders, the moon is of course hammered by that constant shower of micrometeorites and cosmic rays (particles, nuclei) which gradually gnaw away at everything. Crumbling lunar rocks a tiny fraction of a centimeter per year and changing the chemistry of the soil, respectively. As well highlighted during the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 hoopla, regarding the flags, energetic EM radiation is merciless, too, stripping away properties in lighter materials.

Two hundred tons of human-made wreckage and garbage deposited on the Moon's surface. (List of artificial objects on the Moon)

In addition to "more than 70 spacecraft, including rovers, modules, and crashed orbiters", there's:

5 American flags
2 golf balls
12 pairs of boots
TV cameras
film magazines
96 bags of urine, feces, and vomit
numerous Hasselbad cameras and accessories
several improvised javelins
various hammers, tongs, rakes, and shovels
insulating blankets
utility towels
used wet wipes
personal hygiene kits
empty packages of space food
a photograph of Apollo 16 astronaut Charles Duke's family
a feather from Baggin, the Air Force Academy's mascot falcon, used to conduct Apollo 15's famous "hammer-feather drop" experiment
a small aluminum sculpture, a tribute to the American and Soviet "fallen astronauts" who died in the space race—left by the crew of Apollo 15
a patch from the never-launched Apollo 1 mission, which ended prematurely when flames engulfed the command module during a 1967 training exercise, killing three U.S. astronauts
a small silicon disk bearing goodwill messages from 73 world leaders, and left on the moon by the crew of Apollo 11
a silver pin, left by Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean
a medal honoring Soviet cosmonauts Vladimir Komarov and Yuri Gagarin
a cast golden olive branch left by the crew of Apollo 11
(UPDATE) There Are Thousands of Tardigrades on the Moon. Now What?

EXCERPT: . . . First of all, is anyone in trouble for accidentally spilling tardigrades on the moon? That's a complicated question, but the short answer is no. [...] the only explicit prohibitions are against weapons and experiments or tools that could interfere with missions from other agencies, according to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

[...] Tardigrades survive conditions that would destroy most other organisms; they do so by expelling the water from their bodies and generating compounds that seal and protect the structure of their cells. The creatures can remain in this so-called tun state for months and still revive in the presence of water; scientists even resuscitated two tardigrades from a 30-year deep freeze in 2016.

As a tun, a tardigrade can weather boiling, freezing, high pressure and even the vacuum of space, the European Space Agency (ESA) reported in 2008, after sending water bears into orbit. Ultraviolet radiation turned out to be the tardigrades' kryptonite, as few of the creatures survived full exposure to UV light during the ESA experiments. This could be good news for the desiccated Beresheet tardigrades. If they landed in a spot on the moon shielded from UV radiation, the microscopic creatures might stand a chance of survival, Martin said. "My guess is that if we went up in the next year or so, recovered the wreckage, and found these tiny, little tuns and put them in water, a few of them would come back to life," he explained.

But as long as the tardigrades remain on the moon, their chances of spontaneously awakening are low. Without liquid water, the tiny creatures will remain in a tun state, and while there's evidence of ice on the moon, liquid water is nowhere to be found. [...] "Much as I would love to see the establishment of the Lunar Tardigrade Republic, I don't think that's going to happen," Martin said. (MORE - details)

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