Monday , October 18 2021

The Bereshit accident spilled thousands of "water bears" on the moon


When the Israeli Bereshit landing module crashed into the moon in April, seen live by millions of people around the world, the spacecraft left a pretty serious dent in the lunar surface,

According to a report published Monday by US magazine Wired, Bereshit may have left more on the moon than previously thought. The SpaceIL spacecraft apparently carried thousands of microscopic tardigrads, also known as "water bears", one of the most difficult animals known to humans,

Tardigrades, only 0.5 mm long when they grew up, joined the lunar journey as part of an initiative led by Arch Mission Mission Foundation, founded by Nova Spivack.

To maintain a backup of planet Earth around the solar system, Bereshit maintains the foundation's lunar library, a small archive of 30 million pages of human history and civilization, samples of human DNA, and several thousand dehydrated tardigrades.

Based on an analysis of the ship's trajectory and the composition of its lunar library, Spivak told Wired that he was quite certain that its payload had survived the impact for most or all.

Engineers lost contact with the spacecraft just minutes before it crashed on the moon's surface on April 11, Reaching the Moon is a feat that only the US, Russia (then the USSR) and China have just completed, backed by gigantic sums that far exceed Berezit's modest budget of NIS 350 million ($ 99 million).

"The first 24 hours were a shock," Spivak said. "We expected it to be a success. We knew there were risks, but we didn't think they were so important. "

Known for their resilience, a 2007 European Space Agency experiment showed this tardigrades can survive spatial exposure, About 3,000 organizations joined the agency's 12-day space mission aboard the Foton-M3 mission and survived on conditions that would kill people in minutes.

If dehydrated tardigrades survive after landing, Spivak added, they could hypothetically be revived in the coming years by future human astronauts upon their return to Earth. Previously, studies have shown that dehydrated micro-animals can be revived decades later.

While SpaceIL and its major donor, Maurice Kahn, quickly declared their ambition after the Bereshit accident to launch a second moon spacecraft within two years, the organization announced in June that reusing the same mission would not be a challenge. big enough

If some moon lovers might be disappointed with the announcement, SpaceIL founder Kfir Damari said The Jerusalem Post In July, the decision is to expand your horizon even further.

"We may return to the moon, but we will not give the same project a green light with the same designsaid Damari.

"We decided we wanted to look for different options, maybe go to the moon and come back or take something special with us. We think of other places, including the possibility of transcending the moon. "

It remains to be seen whether SpaceIL's next mission will involve moving the moon even later or even beyond the moon.

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