By Anupum Pant
What are Tardigrades?
Tardigrades, also known as moss piglets or waterbears, are oddly cute little animals that live in water and feed on moss. Their size ranges from 0.1 mm to 1.5 mm and they have eight legs (they walk like bears). The most extreme thing about these extremophiles is that they can survive almost anything (actually, they kind of die for a while with an option to come back to life later). Here is a list of things Tardigrades can survive. They can:
- Survive without water and food for 10 years.
- Waddle away in the vacuüm of space (for 10 days & get exposed UV radiation), come back and walk around as if nothing happened.
- Survive 1000 times more radiation that would kill an elephant.
- Live through extremely low temperatures (almost absolute zero) or high temperatures (~150 degree Centigrade)
- Repair their own DNA after getting exposed to lethal amounts of radiation.
- Survive pressures of about 300 Jumbo jets stacked on a person. (6 times more than the deepest ocean trenches)
Scientists love them
People at NASA and the European Space Agency love doing tests on them because they think, Tardigrades can help them understand the origin of life on earth (probably by supporting Panspermia). Also, scientists want to find out more about their extreme capabilities. If you ask them, if these things are aliens, they’ll tell you – “Probably not”