Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are microscopic creatures that have possibly taken over the lunar surface. Scientists believe that these animals are now thriving on the moon after an Israeli spacecraft crash-landed on the Moon in 2019. The spacecraft contained a ‘library of life,’ which included a stack of disks archiving 30 million pages of information about Earth, a copy of the entire English-language Wikipedia, human DNA samples, and thousands of tardigrades:
Beresheet's strange occupants were dehydrated tardigrades, a process which essentially slows their metabolism down and suspends them in a near-life state. The idea was that, if they were to be rehydrated by someone or something, then they would come back to life, ostensibly telling future lunar explorers about life on Earth today.
But the spacecraft carrying the tardigrades didn’t land on the Moon according to plan, instead crashing on the lunar surface and losing contact with ground control.
Despite the impact, scientists believe that if anything survived the crash intact, it may well have been the tardigrades. The microscopic creatures were sandwiched between micron-thin sheets of nickel and suspended in epoxy, a resin-like preservative that acts like a jelly — potentially enough to cushion their landing.
This is not a totally outlandish idea. Tardigrades have been shown to survive the harsh conditions of space in the past.
Image via Inverse