A Crashed Israeli Lunar Lander Spilled Tardigrades on the Moon

From Wired

American Museum of Natural History

Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are microscopic animals that can survive for years without food or water. And now they’re on the moon!

It was just before midnight on April 11 and everyone at the Israel Aerospace Industries mission control center in Yehud, Israel, had their eyes fixed on two large projector screens. On the left screen was a stream of data being sent back to Earth by Beresheet, its lunar lander, which was about to become the first private spacecraft to land on the moon. The right screen featured a crude animation of Beresheet firing its engines as it prepared for a soft landing in the Sea of Serenity. But only seconds before the scheduled landing, the numbers on the left screen stopped. Mission control had lost contact with the spacecraft, and it crashed into the moon shortly thereafter.

Half a world away, Nova Spivack watched a livestream of Beresheet’s mission control from a conference room in Los Angeles. As the founder of the Arch Mission Foundation, a nonprofit whose goal is to create “a backup of planet Earth,” Spivack had a lot at stake in the Beresheet mission. The spacecraft was carrying the foundation’s first lunar library, a DVD-sized archive containing 30 million pages of information, human DNA samples, and thousands of tardigrades, those microscopic “water bears” that can survive pretty much any environment—including space.

But when the Israelis confirmed Beresheet had been destroyed, Spivack was faced with a distressing question: Did he just smear the toughest animal in the known universe across the surface of the moon?

Full article here

73 thoughts on “A Crashed Israeli Lunar Lander Spilled Tardigrades on the Moon

  1. No water, no life. They will desicate. Think mummy.
    Surface temp will go to 100C plus in sunlight.
    Proteins “cook” at that temperature. Think, eggs on a skillet.
    Even in a place sheltered from sunlight, the radiation will get them eventually.
    Same goes for any other life with proteins, which is everything, such as bacteria.

  2. Wrong destination. Put the tardigrades and algae onto a comet and let them freeze-dry and thaw for millennia. Colonise the Oort Cloud!


  3. The lunar rocks and dust brought back from the moon from the Apollo missions showed that the moon has been repeatedly subject to massive un-attenuated solar flares. And it has been theorized that some of these rise to the level of micro-novas. I would not think any of the experimental specimens will survive even the next Carrington level event.

    Chuck Norris however will roll out a mat at Apollo 11’s landing site, and enhance his tan.

  4. funny how they had fits about everything needing to be close to sterile for exoplanet landings(mars) ..but, private interests didnt do so?
    and then human dna?
    so if there were aliens;-) its handing them an awful lot of info assuming they could work any of it out.

  5. On the left screen was a stream of data being sent back to Earth by Beresheet, its lunar lander, which was about to become the first private spacecraft to land on the moon. The right screen featured a crude animation of Beresheet firing its engines as it prepared for a soft landing in the Sea of Serenity. But only seconds before the scheduled landing, the numbers on the left screen stopped.

    Be interesting to know what the last IMU data was in those last seconds … perhaps the beginning of a tumble by their lunar lander upon descent …

    • I know from personal experience that those last few seconds before touchdown on a lunar surface can be hectic. An unexpected slope or bolder can mess things up suddenly, and a rocket engine designed for landing in the lowered gravity doesn’t leave you much for emergency maneuvers.

      …what? Kerbal Space Program totally counts as personal experience.


    • It strikes me that background computing CPU time was halted because primary program of CPU demands took precedence.

  6. They’ll evolve faster in the radiation and before long they’ll be landing on Earth in their own spaceships, demanding tribute.

  7. Did You hear about the new restaurant that opened up on the moon?
    I hear the food is great,but there’s no atmosphere.

    What do aliens eat for dessert? Martian-mallows.

  8. Oh Great.
    We put a big chunk of human knowledge together and loaded it with a bioweapon. Any aliens who come across the artifacts will start decoding and fall ill due to infection. Because of the alien (to them) biochemistry of the Tardigrades, they will be helpless and will not be able to marshal their medical resources fast enough. A big chunk of their research teams will be lost to the plague before they get things under control.

    No doubt, the aliens will consider the use of the bioweapon to be deliberate, and an act of war, because no species can be so stupid as to load an information library with an infectious agent.
    They will respond in kind.
    How is that going to work out for everybody?

  9. LOL they actually included a copy of Wikipedia in their archive as a sign of human intelligence.

    “In the weeks following the Beresheet crash…”

    Beresheet is the first Hebrew word in Genesis and means “in the beginning” (God created the heavens and the earth). In this case, “In the beginning (they crashed)”.

    • where does a Beresheet ?
      No, on the moon !

      English Bibles start with “In the beginning there was the Word. ”

      The Hebrew versions reads “In the Beresheet there was the Worm.”

      Something seems to have gone wrong in translation.

    • Two words written as one, pronounced “buh” (in or at) and “ray-sheeth” (beginning or first).

      The definite article “ha” isn’t used in biblical Hebrew as often as “the” is in English. In grammar it’s called a “particle definite article”, traditionally considered an actual part of the definite noun.

      There’s no indefinite article in biblical Hebrew.

  10. I thought I had read that while the tardigrades were technically “alive” they were in a dormant stage and they were encased in plastic resin.

  11. So what? We’ve taken plenty of microbes to the moon already. Maybe it just so happens that tardigrades have also figured in some space-travel science fiction stories, and this now helps make a media story. Let them eat cake.

    For what it’s worth, I reckon they look disturbingly similar to some Dyson vacuum cleaners I have known.

  12. Nobody is bother to ask the most basic question of all:
    “WTF purpose were they transporting tardigrades to the moon?”
    We have protocols against doing just such things! They very well may die, but what if they all don’t? We find ‘extremophiles’ is all sorts of ‘uninhabitable’ environments. Now we simply have the first introduction of non-native invasive life forms on a previously uncontaminated environment.
    IMHO this was an extremely irresponsible thing to do! And now, we can only hope that this error takes care of itself.

  13. Cosmic radiation will mutate them to giant size, turn them blue and grant amazing powers, like instantaneous, intergalactic travel.

    • Some think that tiny tardigrades descend from larger, macroscopic ancestors.

      Genetics has helped to clarify their relationships. They appear to be the sister phylum to Euarthropoda in the clade Tactopoda, a phylogenetic grouping also supported by morphological traits. The sister phylum to Tactpoda is Onychophora, the velvet worms, in clade Panarthropoda of Superphylum Ecdysozoa of clade Protostomia.

      Tardigrades, arthropods and hence ecdysozoans are known from the Cambrian Period (541-485.4 Ma) of the Paleozoic Era of the present Phanerozoic Eon. Protostomes and their (and our) bilaterian ancestors date from the Ediacaran Period (635-541 Ma) of the Neoproterozoic Era of the Proterozoic Eon.

      • I don’t know why, but “clade” is one of my favorite words (and rhymes with tardigrade). It ought to be used more often, IMO.

        • I agree.

          The tardigrade clade has it made in the shade.

          Except that their clade is generally considered a phylum.

      • This 2011 study switched the phylogenetic positions of velvet worms and water bears, with the former closer to arthropods and the latter as sister group to the arthropod-velvet worm clade. Hence, no clade Tactopoda.


        Water bears just look more arthropody to me than do velvet worms.

        At least the paper agrees with other recent research ruling out a previously proposed close relationship with nematodes.

  14. lord help us all if they morph into epa lawyers.

    a tardigrade lands on the moon finds itself attacked by a lunar lion, a lunar tiger, and a lawyer.
    its weapon only has 2 shots left in it.
    whats it do?
    shoots the lawyer twice to be safe.

  15. I guess we could mount a cleanup campaign there at the landing site. The tardigrades are not going anywhere soon.

    Once we return to the Moon, that is.

  16. “A Crashed Israeli Lunar Lander Spilled Tardigrades on the Moon”

    The link attached about tardigrades only suggests the eggs can survive “space”; not the creature.
    The link also states that tardigrades eat single cell life.

    So what will tardigrades get to eat on the moon?
    Each other?
    Tardigrade eggs?

    Unless someone goes to the crash site quickly, those exposed tardigrades will enjoy solar wind particles, high energy solar radiation and extremes of heat and cold; both happening extremely quickly.
    Not to overlook the occasional meteorite pounding the little bugger at 30 to 50 thousand miles per hour velocities.

    Declare the small lunar location a contaminated location to be avoided; with severe penalties for violators. Like, take away their spaceship.

    • It might be worth it. It would tell us something about the toughness of life, and its potential to migrate between celestial objects.

  17. There they go again – the Moon is not Kosher anymore!
    And to think Moses led them out of Egypt to the one place with no oil – now to the Moon with no atmosphere!
    Are we seeing the Bible (yeah, Old Testament) repeating itself?
    Anyway it was not just a “private venture” – the Israeli defense establishment is heavily involved.
    Hey, Moses was neither a private venture – see the Covenant!

  18. With all the raw radiation from space, the tardigrades could evolve in to something truly magnificent. Their intellect could well exceed that of humans which is not too hard- humans are such a dull species that many believe the absurd notion that an essential trace element released in to the ecosytem by their activities is destroying the planet, warranting abandonment of the technology that supports 1,000 times more of them in comfort and safety than would otherwise be supported.

    The tardigrades could well develop the technology to explore the cosmos, starting with planet earth. They have Helium 3 on the moon, which is a very energy dense fuel. Will they analyse humans and think what a primitive retrograde planet – these are the intelligent species?

    The clever and by now large astro tardigrades will examine archaelogical sites which will demonstrate how the humans were so stupid-they abandoned a wonderfully advanced civilisation to embrace a very pagan belief that the 3% of CO2 increase that was from them somehow was responsible for anything bad on their planet, in particular, that their planet was going to burn to a crisp.

  19. Great. Now I’ll sound like a flat-eather if someone asks me if I believe there’s life on the moon.

    As a side note, I think we need to acknowledge the achievements of this “lowly” creature as there have now been MANY more tardigrades who have made it to the moon than humans.

  20. Trust the Zionists to completely F*ck something up and then apologise for it afterwards. What in the name of all that is holy were those damn things doing on there in the first place? Next thing will be that they announce that in accordance with their Magic Book™ and by virtue of advance payment in the chosen currency of Yahweh, i.e. the foreskins of infant male human beings, the Moon has now been annexed for the Chosen People and Palestinians are forbidden from landing on it, because Tewworwists or something. But better stage a few pre-emptive bombings just in case.

    NB: Before you start – no, not anti-semitic (Noah did not exist and neither did he have three sons, so the whole notion of semitism is entirely fictitious in the first place) – but anti-Zionist. Educate yourself.

    • Adrian, Yes, I agree. Sending up invasive extremophiles was a very irresponsible thing to do.

  21. Have you ever actually looked at a Tardigrade under a microscope? They probably came from the moon in the first place!

  22. Adrian, Yes, I agree. Sending up invasive extremophiles was a very irresponsible thing to do.

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