Israeli Lunar Lander Accidentally Spilled Tardigrades on the Moon
by Matthew Gilligan
An Israeli lunar spilled tardigrades on the Moon after crash landing on the surface. While it’s definitely a positive that no human lives were lost, a crashed lander means that about $100 million American dollars went down the drain.
That’s pretty cost-effective as far as most landers go, but any spacecraft that crashes hurts…especially if it’s carrying a pack of taligrades, also known as water bears.
The Beresheet lunar lander was set to become the first private spacecraft to touch the lunar surface but moments before the lander was about to reach the ground, mission control lost all contact.
Soon after, Beresheet failed and crash-landed into the Moon. The spacecraft was developed as part of the Arch Mission Foundation’s goal of developing a “backup Earth and it carried many experiments within it, like human DNA samples, a lunar library, and those tardigrades.
But there is some good news. Tardigrades are one of the most resilient species on Earth and they’re able to survive the toughest living conditions, including the dark, cold, oxygen-less void of space.
These water bears have likely entered a dormant state that allows them to basically turn themselves into hibernating shells of themselves. Researchers have revived tardigrades up to ten years after they’ve entered this state, so it’s possible those displaced water bears might turn out just fine.
But now that the water bears are on the Moon, it might take a while to find all of them. So some of the Artemis astronauts might join them soon!