When SpaceIL's backsheet lander crashed into the moon, it was a bitter-sweet moment for Israel's space exploration aspirations. The privately built spacecraft was moving its lunar eclipse as the moon traveled. Unfortunately, it crashed, the end of the dream.
But the bearsheet carried some unusual passengers, as part of an unusual, yet dreamy, sub-mission: the Tardigrades.
Tarigrades stand in scientific debate because it is the most difficult life-form on earth. Also called water bears or moss piglets, teardrogs are small animals that can withstand extreme temperatures, extreme dryness, and food shortages. They can push as much force as the vacuum of space and the most pointy point of the earth's oceans. If that is not enough to crown them as the toughest animal on earth, they are also resistant to radiation.
Now, there are thousands of these near-invincible creatures on the moon.
Why send bugs to the moon?
First of all they are not mistakes.
Tarigrades are eight-legged, fragmented microbes that live in water. There are more than 1100 known species of tardigrades. They have been around for a long time and there are Tardigrade fossils dating back to 500 million years, during the Cambrian period.
The group responsible for sending these creatures to the moon is the for-profit Ark Mission Foundation. If you haven't heard of this before, it's an interesting group. To quote a copy of their website, "The Ark Mission Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that collects Earth's knowledge and species for future generations."
They sent thousands of tardigrades to the surface of the moon on SpaceL's bersheet lander, as stated in their vision statement. What’s more backup than the toughest animal on earth?
Stormtroopers of terrestrial DNA?
The idea was that when the bersheet landed safely on the moon, the targetgrades would land safely as well. But the bersheet did not land safely on the moon; It crashed. Uncertainty since it crashed. But according to Nova Spivak, co-founder and president of the Arch Mission Foundation, probably. The TardiGradates have survived.
It is made up of 25 nickel disks, each only 40 microns thick. It has a wealth of information about human civilization. The full description is here, but here are some highlights:
- The language key of 5000 languages with 1.5 billion translations between them.
- Over 60,000 analog images of books, photographs, illustrations and pages of documents.
- A specially designed "primer" that delivers more than a million concepts in pictures and related words in major languages.
But why do all of these member data include triggers?
According to Spivak, "Tarigrades are ideal for inclusion because they are microscopic, multi-cellular and one of the most sustainable forms of life on earth." But he doesn't really answer the question. In fact, we could not find anywhere in the Arc Mission Foundation literature where it says why they are included.
In any case, poor organisms are potentially destructive. Sure, they can survive the extreme conditions and deprivation of the Moon's surface, but only in a dormant, hibernation state. They can never be active again. There is no food, no water, no oxygen, and no plans to go, just to see if they are actually staying.
This probably. Not the first
We think of moon landing in glossy terms, and why not? Collectively, it is one of humanity's top technology and research achievements. But there is one kind of nasty damage to it: urine and feces are left behind on the moon. What? You think they brought it back with them? No In any case, that is just a simple fact of biological research.
We have left other things on the moon. Moon Laser Reflector, an American flag. Three moon buggies.
The point is, it is not very possible that this is the first biological contamination of the fuzzy moon. In fact, even if humans have not taken any microorganisms before, or possibly planted themselves on the moon, nature may have already done so.
We know that when large enough rocks, about 1 km When called a planet of diameter or larger, it can spin the debris out into space. In fact, we know that there are more than 200 Martian meteors here on Earth. Who says some earthly object has not already traveled to the moon? Maybe with Uber-Hardy tardigrades on board? If this is the case, then the Ark Mission Foundation's secret delivery of terrestrial life-forms on the moon will not be the first such cross-contamination. The foundation will probably just continue the work of nature.
The Ark Mission Foundation is not just focused on the moon. They are taking their jobs seriously, and are spreading their libraries on earth and elsewhere, in different places.
In 2018, they launched their library with the SpaceX Falcon Heavy Test Launching, which will orbit the sun for millions of years. That library includes the Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series.
Also in 2018, they delivered a copy of the English-Wikipedia to the Low-Earth Orbit.
In 2019, they are hosting The Earth Library: Eden. It is an ongoing series of missions to send arch libraries to "deep cave systems, underwater spaces, mountain ranges, bunkers and other over-the-top sites on planet Earth."
In 2021, he plans to send the second installment of his luncheon to the moon at Astrobiotic's Peregrine Lander.
They also have other plans. Both the Martian surface and the Martian orbit are the targets for their archive libraries, as are the Le Marge Point 4 and Are.
It seems like a kind of melancholy act, if the Earth's culture somehow cannot sustain itself, and if it destroys much of its own knowledge, then back up the plans. It's an unpleasant idea, that either our own bedraggled descendants, or perhaps aliens, have to install this backup and reboot the culture.
On the other hand, given our inability to deal with climate change, perhaps the back-up of human culture is a practical matter.
But will the aliens create dead Tedigrades? For now, it's an open question.