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back to article 'Water bears' survive in outer space

A European Space Agency experiment shows that tiny eight-legged invertebrates known as "water bears" are the first known animal to survive the vacuum and radiation of space. The hardy critters, also called tardigrades, are between 0.1 to 1.5 millimeters long and thrive in moist conditions. They can commonly be found munching on …

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Emo
Joke

I for one..

Welcome our Water Bear overlords.

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Alien

More ammo to Sir Fred Hoyle...

...who argued that life on Earth could have originated from up there, rather than down here. "Son, your great great great E234 Grandpa was a water bear. So when you next look up to the stars, think of how far he came so you could be here today..." ;-)

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Wonder if

PETA is gonna be on their asses! I guess PETA don't care about Water Bears eh! Poor guys!

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Boffin

I have to wonder

who came up with this idea. Were a couple of boffins sitting in the pub (after several drinks) and one says, "Let's launch some water bears into space, expose them to hard radiation and vacuum for a while, and see what happens."? As much as I enjoy science, I cannot fathom how they think of some of their experiments.

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RW
Joke

The Origin of Geeks

Naked, exposed to hard UV in space, dehydrated, suffered genetic damage, but lived and laid eggs. Their parents, that is.

Is a mutated tardigrade a tradigarde?

I amuse myself far too easily.

Next week: The Origin of BOFH's.

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Alien

Missing phrase?

"Joensson suspects even the survivors suffered DNA damage from radiation, but were able to genetic material."

Exactly how do you genetic material? Can you even verb genetic?

@Kanhef -- I rather suspect the scientists who came up with this idea were studying water bears and the conversation went something like:

"Man these things can survive anything!"

"Nah, bet they can't survive the vacuum of space."

"How much?"

IANAS, but even I've heard of the resilience of these little buggers. It's not surprising at all that a scientist familiar with their strengths would want to see how much they can survive.

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Coat

Have they ever done this with a human?

Maybe we could survive just fine. Throw McCain and Palin out the airlock and let's see how they do.

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IT Angle

so, carl sagan was right then ...

we come from the stars

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@Kanhef

they smoke lots and lots of marijuana plain and simple its the only explanation.

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I am struggling

To see the point in this one.

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Dead Vulture

Rushing to meet a deadline maybe?

Did the author of this piece rush to meet a deadline and in doing so neglect checking for grammar and completeness? WTF is the following supposed to mean: "Joensson suspects even the survivors suffered DNA damage from radiation, but were able to genetic material"?

Were able to what genetic material - rematerialise, devour, mutate, fornicate with?

This is pretty much the point of the experiment by all indications, so why not read the article again before publishing to make sure that the sentence makes sense?

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water bear = spore creature

wow, just wow... I reckon it would be one simple step further to theorise (or even find) that a bug like the water bear could have a slightly harder/thicker shell to shield itself against the nasty types of solar radiation described, and then voila: quite solid evidence in the effort to prove that life originated extra-terrestrially.

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PETA

People Eating Tasty Animals?

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@Kanhef

It is not that hard to come up with an idea like this. First you need a problem: in this case radiation therapy kills some good cells as well as lots of cancer cells. Designing a gene from scratch that repairs damage to DNA in non-cancerous cells is far too much like hardwork. It is much easier to find such a gene that already exists, and adapt it to your needs.

Next you need someone with an enormous budget. NASA are a reasonable choice, but DARPA seems more appropriate. (Remember the study that involved teaching monkeys to fly by electrocuting them when they crashed, then finding the smallest dose of radiation required to make them crash?). Department of homeland security also have money, but they cannot tell the difference between junk and science, so the competition is tougher.

There is a bunch of organisms called extremophiles that can live in harsh conditions. They are the obvious choice to start looking for any unusual genes. Your next step is to expose a selection of extremophiles with your radio therapy equipment. Any that survive are good candidates for further investigation.

Unfortunately, this is not that expensive, and does not require NASA. NASA would be interested in radiation hardening their astronauts, so the idea shows promise. While we are at it, vacuum is a bit of a problem. Some extremophiles can survive at high altitude. Get out your vacuum pump and test some likely creatures. Oops - too cheap try again:

There are cosmic rays in space that we cannot make on earth. At last - an excuse big enough to involve NASA. By this time you have experience in breeding extremophiles, and with a bit of selective breeding, you have the world's biggest collection of radiation hardened vacuum resistant animals. Time to make your pitch to NASA.

Bad news - they are not entirely dim - but they have their on motives. They need some <strike>excuses</strike> experiments to justify the space station budget, so they are interested in the experiment, but not funding your new swimming pool. Not to worry though - they are interested in publicising a successful experiment. You can ride the publicity to some less frugal investors, point at the startling abilities of extrophiles, say you have NASA convinced and get that pool after all.

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Stop

Solution to Mystery

"Joensson suspects even the survivors suffered DNA damage from radiation, but were able to (?) genetic material."

The missing word is 'repair' and I claim my prize :)

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Anonymous Coward

Follow that

Hard act to follow, but seeing how many survive to breed after a few laps in the LHC might be a good start.

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Water bears!

I keep thinking of Sea-Bears from Spongebob Squarepants...so long as you draw a perfect circle in the sand you'll be safe....

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Happy

New Experiment - Old Story

This has been known about for years. Maybe this report got delayed in a time warp created by the Large Hardon Collider.

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Dead Vulture

So, only one question left unanswered, then:

just how DO you kill the little buggers?

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Alert

but were able to genetic material.

yes exactly. (perhaps regenerate?)

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Boffin

I have to wonder

how many other species have been tested?

WWWhales in Space? Snakes on a space-plane???

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Alien

That NOT news

Look at all insects, the hard carapace, able to survive extremes of cold, heat, vacuum and radiation.

Exactly like tiny spaceships.

The reason they are finding new species all the time is that THEY ARE STILL ARRIVING.

Be be fooled people, the invasion Phase 1 is nearing completion. Phase 2 will begin at 00:00:01 21st December 2012.

Scared? You'd better be.

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IG Noble anyone

This certainly qualifies for IG nobel prze. Maybe we should send all living creatures to space one by one. Lets start with blue whale !

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Genetic Material

So how do you exactly genetic material? I mean if they were able to genetic material, so should we be able to...

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Paris Hilton

"But were able to genetic material"

"How that was accomplished "remains a mystery,""

I'll Say...

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Alien

Most interesting

I find things like this most interesting. Who decided that these poor creatures needed to be put through this kind of testing, as opposed to, oh, cockroaches come to mind.

Also, some sentences in this article jsut didn't make sense, and I am not sure if that is Austins fault or the fault of the Swedish dudes Euronglish. Things like "..., but were able to genetic material".

And finally, we have now subjected these little critters to extreme conditions, space radiation and who knows what else, and now they are breeding. Is this a good thing? Really?

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@ Kanhef

Probably the same bunch of 'scientists' who wondered what a cat would do in zero gravity (well OK - free fall) - the answer? Spin round furiously then attach itself to the nearest 'scientist'

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beF73C200m0

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@Kanhef

The idea probably originated from the debate "which is harder - Chuck Norris or a water bear?".

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Alien

nothing new

Anabiosis in Tardigrada has been know for quite a while and the creature has been to open space before. Either this is a new experiment or your reporter has "discovered America".

It is an extremely interesting being. The creatures can fill their cells with trehalose, a saccharide, which conserves them like a mummy. It is known to have survived a bath in liquid helium, boiling water, anaerobic conditions, extreme radiation etc.

An alien, because God knows where they have come from.

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Alien

I hope

None escaped, if some unlucky martian happens to pass by and the little water bear ends up on his person, the martian might discover a water bear nibbling on his exterior, and once again humankind will have infected other civilisations with things they never had before :)

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Boffin

Are Gummy Bears...

...mutated Water Bears?

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Kanhef

Presumably, they had already noticed that Water Bears are quite resilient here on Earth (perhaps that they weren't drowning in the drinks you mention for example), so decided to volunteer them for more extreme testing outside the atmosphere.

Perhaps these little critters can help terraforming Mars?

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Paris Hilton

@Kantef

From my experience of Swedes (the people, not the root vegetable) they have lots of time on their hands to mull over the complexitites of such earth shattering experiments as they seem to spend lots of time chatting, drinking coffee, eating cake and getting very, very drunk (particularly on the weekend after payday!!)

Paris as I wonder what experiments she like to do in zero gravity...

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Bronze badge

They do know...

Humans have survived exposure to hard vacuum at least twice, with the only long-term damage being to one person's eyes. The suggestion that simple organisms can survive it for longer is hardly incredible.

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Coat

But.......

There's no woods in outer space. How do they sh.....?

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Well thats ok then

I had a mental image of NASA shoving some cuddly aqua-coloured teddybear like creatures out of the airlock.

But little flea-things? Fuck em.

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Happy

@ Kanhef ;-)

I think it might have been more along the lines of sitting at the pub "What creature might survive that?" "Well waterbears can survive just about every extreme the surface of the Earth can throw at them, so..."

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Alien

Experiments

Let's hope it wasn't trial and error. Launch puppy 2!

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@Kanhef

Not so hard to fathom why this species was tested under these conditions. It makes sense that, if you're looking for an organism that can survive in space, you would start with extremophiles. The waterbear survives in some of the harshest conditions on earth so it seems a fairly good choice for this experiment.

Also, the cost of making tiny little spacesuits for waterbears would have proved cost inhibitive.

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It probably went more like...

Who's harder? A shark, a grizzly, a nasty looking scorpion or a water bear? And let's put them all in a reality show called The World's Hardest and then......

So now you know.

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Al

It's such a great name....

It was only going to be a matter of time before someone found a use for tardigrades.

Mind you, if that's what I was called, I'd go for 'water bear' instead. People don't wonder if you're a window-licker if you're a 'water bear'....

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Happy

If I'd been running this experiment it wouldn't have been Tardigrades shoved out the hatch...

"One problem with radiation therapy in treating cancer today is that healthy cells are also harmed," said a Dimwitted Horse. "If we can document and show that there are special molecules involved in DNA repair in multicellular composites like Scientologists, we might be able to further the development of radiation therapy." ®

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@Kanhef

I think tardigrades are the default multicellular organism for this kind of experiment.

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Boffin

Re: I have to wonder

Presumably the point was to prove that life could have potentially survived and interstellar journey on a comet or other space debris.

I was interested to hear that they’ve done this as an experiment, as I seem to remember one of my university lecturers talking about water bears and how he thought they could potentially survive in space, and that was several years ago now. Looks like he was right, although I don't believe it was his theory as such; I think it's one that has been 'floating around' for a while now (if you'll excuse the pun). :)

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Joke

Wonderful news

Thankfully this experiment has now ended world hunger and disease. Crime and poverty have already ended in my part of the world the moment those waterbears were brought back into the ISS. I am hoping this experiment will lead to improved manufacture of nano technology and a clean renewable fuel source to power all factories and cars by the end of the month.

Tomorrow: Kittens.

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Dead Vulture

*I* wonder..

how many species died in the cold vacuum of space before they found out about water bears?!?

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Thinking of experiments...

It would be fun to try and expose Bush and Blair to hard radiation and vacum, and see what happens. Would God protect them? Answer on a postcard.

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Boffin

Water Bears =

Hardiest multi-cellular creatures, but they are not a patch on some single cell ones.

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Black Helicopters

Have any of them...

mutated into huge Godzilla-like creatures after this exposure to high intensity UV and all those cosmic rays (man!)?

I feel we should be told.

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Tardigrades

Are Tardigrades bigger on the inside?

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