Shooting tardigrades with cannons for the flag

Shooting tardigrades from cannons doesn’t really sound like scientific research. However, researchers have done just that.

Shooting tardigrades with cannons for the flag

Tardigrades are a rather ugly animal with a length of half a millimeter. Forget about cockroaches, these are the most powerful animals in the whole world. They could be the only ones able to survive in space. But can they also travel on a meteorite? Thus bringing life to a planet?

To answer this question, researchers at the University of Kent put 20 slow brewers into hibernation by freezing them. Then they were fired into a pile of sand at tremendous speeds into cylinders filled with water. When colliding at a speed above 900 meters per second, the animals turned out to be not strong enough. A meteorite on a collision course has higher average collision velocities, which makes it unlikely that life could have spread in this way.

But yes: if, for whatever reason, the collision velocity is less than 900 meters per second, and if the conditions are right, they can reach a new planet.

Read more about the research here: Tardigrades are hard-tested to simulate the movement of life through space.

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Megan Vasquez

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