Houston, we have a...tardigrade?
This is Sandra Tsing Loh with The Loh Down on Science.
Meet the tardigrades. Also known as water bears, they are notoriously resilient, microscopic, water-dwelling invertebrates. How resilient? They can survive dehydrated for up to a decade!
But can they survive outer space?
To find out, researchers from Sweden and Germany sent 3,000 tardigrades into low earth orbit with the European Space Agency.
The waterless water bears were exposed to space's vacuum and various forms of UV and cosmic radiation.
Back on earth and rehydrated, tardigrades exposed only to the space vacuum or cosmic radiation sprang back to life.
Even some of the tardigrades exposed to UV radiation survived!
Scientists say they're the first animals ever to survive an unprotected, out-of-this-world trip.
Next up? Trying to figure out the DNA repair mechanisms tardigrades use to avoid radiation damage. This could one day help cancer patients weather radiation treatments.
Your question, of course...why the name "water bear"? 'Cause microscopically, they walk like a bear--
totally cute. And then there's also the UV radiation and the cancer treatments. But the bear thing. Little tiny bears!