Shooting tardigrades with cannons doesn’t really sound like scientific research. Yet the researchers did just that.
The tardigrade is a rather unsightly animal half a millimeter long. Forget the cockroaches, they are the strongest animals in the whole world. They might be the only ones able to survive in space. But could they also travel on a meteorite? And thus give life to a planet?
To answer this question, researchers at the University of Kent hibernated 20 tardigrades by freezing them. They were then fired at gigantic speeds through a pile of sand in cylinders filled with water. At an impact with a speed of over 900 meters per second, the animals were found not to be strong enough. A meteorite on a collision course has higher impact velocities on average, which would make it unlikely that life would spread in this way.
But yes: if for some reason the impact velocity is less than 900 meters per second, and if the conditions are right, then they might just be successful on a new planet.
Learn more about the research here: Hardiness of tardigrades tested to simulate the transmission of life in space.
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