Tardigrades in Space

Collected from: YouTube - The Water Bear

Tardigrades: Water bears in space

Tardigrades are microscopic animals commonly known as water bears

In 2007, a little known creature called a tardigrade became the first animal to survive exposure to space.

Tardigrades join other microscopic organisms selected to be part of a project into extreme survival.

Project Biokis is sponsored by the Italian Space Agency and will investigate the impact of short-duration spaceflight on a number of microscopic organisms.


Brief Summary

BIOKon In Space (BIOKIS) involves the investigation of seven experiments sponsored by the Italian Space Agency (ASI-Agenzia Spaziale Italiana) in the areas of cellular biology, radiation and radioprotection, aging, germination and plant growth. These experiments will aim to evaluate various biological species to determine genetic distinctions following short-duration space flight; also, BIOKIS will utilize a variety of dosimeters to monitor radiation.

Since the exposure to the space environment can induce rapid changes in living systems, this study aims to define the countermeasures needed to protect sensitive organisms, including humans, which are not naturally able to withstand extreme stresses under space conditions; and for the study of future long-term explorations of the solar system.

Tardigrades In Space (TARDIS)

Tardigrades In Space or "TARDIS" is the first research project to evaluate the ability of tardigrades to survive under open space conditions. TARDIS is one of the projects within the Biopan-6 research platform provided by European Space Agency (ESA), and will be sent into space with the russian FOTON-M3 mission.

What is the aim of TARDIS?


At a more mechanistic biological level, exposure of organisms to space conditions will reveal how living cells react to the potentially very stressful impact of space parameters. And organisms that can handle the damaging space parameters will be important sources of knowledge for how to generate the space ecosystems that will be necessary for the more permanent human establishments in space that is envisaged today.

The TARDIS experiment consists of two sets of samples: one set exposed to both space vacuum and solar radiation, and another set exposed to space vacuum only. All tardigrade specimens included in the study are in a dry, anhydrobiotic state. Species included are: Richtersius coronifer, Milnesium tardigradum, Echiniscus testudo, Ramazzottius oberhaeuseri. These are all known to be very tolerant to desiccation.

Once on the ground again, these samples will be analysed for survival and reproductive potential, and for damage on DNA.