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Microscopic Superheroes to Help Protect Astronaut Health in Space

Last Updated on June 8, 2021 by Solar System Ambassador Pam Roller

Here’s an update from our local Solar System Ambassador Pam Roller:

Solar System Ambassador Pam Roller

Find out why NASA is sending water bears into space!

Click the link to read the article and watch a brief video clip.

This chubby, microscopic, eight-legged animal may be an unlikely hero, but tardigrades, also known as water bears due to their shape under a microscope, possess superpowers when it comes to surviving really harsh conditions. Understanding how they tolerate extreme environments – including the one astronauts experience in space, with microgravity and elevated radiation levels – can better guide research into protecting humans from the stresses of long-duration space travel. An experiment starting aboard the International Space Station, called Cell Science-04, will help reveal how tardigrades do it. Revealing what makes tardigrades so tolerant could lead to ways of protecting biological material, such as food and medicine from extreme temperatures, drying out, and radiation exposure, which will be invaluable for long-duration, deep-space exploration missions. That’s superhero-size potential for the teeny tardigrade.

Credits: NASA/Ames Research Center