March 13th, 2015
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you go into outer space without protection, you’ll die.
The lack of pressure would force the air in your lungs to rush out. Gases dissolved in your body fluids would expand, pushing the skin apart and forcing it to inflate like a balloon. Your eardrums and capillaries would rupture, and your blood would start to bubble and boil. Even if you survived all that, ionising radiation would rip apart the DNA in your cells. Mercifully, you would be unconscious in 15 seconds.
But one group of animals can survive this: tiny creatures called tardigrades about 1mm long. In 2007, thousands of tardigrades were attached to a satellite and blasted into space. After the satellite had returned to Earth, scientists examined them and found that many of them had survived. Some of the females had even laid eggs in space, and the newly-hatched young were healthy.
It’s not just the harsh environs of outer space that tardigrades can survive in. The little critters seem adept at living in some of the harshest regions of Earth. They have been discovered 5546m (18,196ft) up a mountain in the Himalayas, in Japanese hot springs, at the bottom of the ocean and in Antarctica. They can withstand huge amounts of radiation, being heated to 150 °C, and being frozen almost to absolute zero.