It’s the stuff of science fiction or, nightmares, depending on how you look at it. But when the Israeli lunar lander, dubbed Beresheet, crashed on the moon in April, it left behind thousands of microscopic and, may I say, indestructible tardigrades, commonly known as water bears.
Water bears—the toughest animal on Earth—offer a very benign impression for the likeliest of scenarios any author, worth their salt, could come up with. And yet, when you take into consideration the fact that not only did the lander leave behind these creatures and, a library of information, but also, human DNA.
I leave you to think about that for a moment.
Yes … human DNA, indestructible tardigrades AND a library—a DVD containing a 30 million page archive of human history. What could possibly go wrong? Don’t worry though about the DVD, the storage medium has its limits and the tech and encoding standard will, no doubt, be out of date sooner rather than later.
The co-founder of the organisation that helped put the water bears on the moon thinks they’re almost definitely alive. Especially when you take into consideration these ‘bears’ can survive being heated up to 150C and frozen to almost absolute zero. They can also be brought back to ‘life’ after decades of being dehydrated.
All it takes is water … then, the tardigrade conquest of the solar system will have begun.