Water Bears at the Edge of Space

by | Sep 4, 2012 | Cool Stuff

Tardigrades, otherwise known as water bears or moss piglets, have long been a part of all kinds of experiments at the edge of space and beyond. Why? Because time and time again, they are sent unprotected to the vacuum of space and return perfectly healthy! On Earth, water bears are generally looked upon as tiny cockroaches, because they can withstand a lot. Originally water bears lived as creatures of the water, but over time they became capable of living in any sort of Earthly environment.

One great example of an experiment involving water bears is the TARDIS mission of 2007. Short for tardigrades in space, the European Space Agency sent TARDIS up to test just how much water bears can withstand using two test groups: one exposed to the space vacuum and solar radiation, the other exposed to the space vacuum only. When the creatures returned, the results proved that tardigrades can survive in space unaided.

Our Experiments
At StratoStar, we are fascinated by water bears. These small creatures truly show us how awesome the possibilities of our world really are. While it is nice to sit back and watch space programs send water bears into the reaches of our atmosphere and beyond, we’ve had plenty of opportunities of our own to get involved in the research. Our work might not leave the atmosphere, but our experiments give students and us a close eye on the incredible discoveries as they happen. Students have sent tardigrades up on our weather balloon balloons platforms several times to gain understanding of how these creatures remain unfazed by changing temperatures and extreme pressure.

Our Goals
It is important to know that our work is never done, so long as there is more to understand about the universe around us. At StratoStar, we want to help students and eductors conduct experiments and keep expanding our findings. We want to work with students in finding new discoveries and come to new understandings of how the world works. By sending the tardigrades up into the atmosphere with our turn-key weather balloon kits, students can see first hand a creature defy laws that we once thought ruled every living creature. It is important for students to come to an understanding through hands-on experiments and adventures, and StratoStar is here to help with that.

Have you ever worked with water bears? Share your experiences and findings in the comments below!

Here is a short video explaing a little more about Tardigrades:

By: Jason Krueger @StratoStar4u