Science Word of the Week: Tun

In the past, there have been talks among scientists of we humans extending our species to inhabit the moon. This could be valuable if the Earth no longer has enough resources to support human life or if something catastrophic happened on Earth. Well once the human race makes it to the moon, it may find that it is already inhabited by a growing microscopic army of TARDIGRADES! On April 11 of this year, the Israeli moon mission “Beresheet” crash landed on the moon. Among various tokens of human achievements to be preserved on the moon (such as books, documents, etc) were samples of Tardigrades in the tun state. Tardigrades in the tun state are dehydrated and all their metabolic activity stops until water and other resources become available. Tardigrades can survive in this state for an outrageous amount of time and under extreme environmental conditions, such as the vacuum of space.

Sharing the moon with tardigrades would not necessarily be a bad thing, we most likely would not even notice them since we already share Earth with billions of the little water bears (an affectionate nickname for tardigrades) already. Unfortunately for the tardigrades, they will remain in their lifeless tun state until liquid water becomes available and there is no sign of liquid water anywhere on the moon. Even if these water bears unrealistically received water from some celestial source, the environmental conditions and lack of food on the moon would most likely cause them to die. Luckily for us humans, it turns out we may have a chance to be the first to inhabit the moon after all, even after the Israeli space mission blunder. As for the Tardigrades, they still stand a better chance of ruling Earth once humans and all other species are gone due to extremely unfavorable environmental conditions.

moon and stars
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

*If you want to learn more about this space mission, check out this article I used as a resource: https://www.livescience.com/moon-tardigrades-future.html

*If you want more scientific information about the tardigrade, check out this blog post I wrote about a year ago: lifethroughgreentintedglasses.blog/2018/12/26/this-planets-ultimate-survivalist-the-water-bear/

 

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