Fifty Years discussed on All Things Considered


There may be life on the moon and humans may have put it there in April a failed lunar mission crash landed and spilled its cargo of a few thousand tardigrades tardigrades are tiny adorable to some and one of the toughest creatures around Daniel over house wrote about the failed lunar mission for wired magazine welcomed All Things Considered thank you for having me I'm embarrassed to say I'd never heard of a tardigrade before the story what are they so these are micro organisms there a little under a millimeter in size they have four legs I'm a lot of people think they look like bears hence the name out water bear they are found everywhere on earth from jungles to the top of the Himalayas to the Antarctic and as you mentioned they can survive pretty much any sort of environment I'm extremely hot temperatures to extremely cold temperatures they can survive in the vacuum of space they're pretty much indestructible and how did a few thousand of them potentially and up on the moon a nonprofit organization called the art commission foundation sent a lunar library to the surface of the man with the air she lander she lander this is an Israeli mission yes and on the slander there is a desk about the size of a DVD need of several ultra thin layers of nickel and sandwiched in between those layers of nickel are I in layers of a proxy that contained DNA from humans in the form of a from humans in the form of hair follicles and blood samples as well as several thousand tardigrades so the idea here was to in addition to all the digital information stored on the layers of nickel was to preserve our biology from earth and if the tardigrades did survive this crash landing are they still sandwiched in this kind of DVD type thing that's the hope and no one knows for sure they did some mathematical month modeling after the crash and determined that in all likelihood this this was actually probably the only thing that survived the crash so there's a pretty good chance at there are tardigrades on the moon does that matter I mean are they gonna like breed and take over the moon I I mean is is that some kind of moon pollution like a what what's what's the importance of this yes so there's no reason to worry about tardigrades becoming our lunar overlords anytime soon they are they're in a state of it's called crypto biosis which is where they actually I showed all the water in their cells they talk in their legs and they almost turn into a glass and they can last for decades in this form but they can't reproduce their metabolism all but stops so they're they're they're kind of live depending on your definition of life but and tell someone were to bring them back to earth they're not going to be moving around or do anything like that element okay so this seems relatively harmless but this was a privately funded lunar mission what's to stop some other billionaire from rationing something on the moon that's not as harmless as a tardigrade that could actually you know do real damage I think that's a concern for a lot of people the fortunate thing I suppose is that the man is considered a relatively low risk for this sort of thing when the Apollo astronauts went there fifty years ago they left dozens of bags of human excrement on the surface of the man so they were the first to actually leave DNA there but I think looking to the future this is something we need to discuss with private missions to places like Mars where introducing DNA into environment could potentially contaminated I the science that they wanted you to perhaps find traces of life so you know I think it's a great entry way for this discussion about who I get to determine what is placed on other celestial bodies well you know compared to bags of human excrement I think I would prefer a few thousand tardigrades reported in over how speaking with us on Skype he wrote about the possibility of tardigrades on the moon for wired magazine

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