Tardigrades: Microscopic organisms could survive interstellar travel

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The microscopic organisms have previously survived exposure to the vacuum of space and are able to hibernate using just 0.01 per cent of their normal energy

Space



29 October 2021

Tardigrade

An illustration of a tardigrade

3Dstock/Shutterstock

The first interstellar travellers from Earth may be a species that is no stranger to space exploration: tardigrades. These creatures grow only 0.5 millimetres long but are some of the most resilient animals known to science, even surviving in the vacuum of space.

Until now, only five craft have left our solar system and none of them has carried biological life. It currently takes decades for craft to travel the 18 billion kilometres to interstellar space, but a NASA-funded research project is developing solar sail …

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