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September 16, 2008

Animals Survive Experimental Exposure to Open Space

Tardigrade. Source: Wikipedia Commons. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike version 3.0.

Space.com reports that tiny 8-legged animals were able to survive in open space during an experiment performed on a European Space Agency spacecraft. Tardigrades, more commonly called water bears, are similar to the brine shrimp Sea-Monkeys.

The Foton-M3 spacecraft carrying the experiment was launched by the European Space Agency in September 2007 and exposed the creatures to the extreme environment of space. Many of the Tardigrades were able to withstand the exposure to vacuum, ultraviolet radiation and cosmic rays.

The results of the experiment lend support to the panspermia hypothesis - that seeds of life may be able to travel between planets and throughout the universe by a number of possible mechanisms.