(ORDO NEWS) — Are we alone in the universe? This is perhaps one of the biggest questions in astronomy, to which there is no definitive answer yet. We have sent several probes, rovers and lunar rovers, but still have not found anything.
On Earth, life thrives everywhere, whether you look inside volcanoes or deep into the ice of Antarctica, there are living microorganisms. If life is found on Earth even in the harshest conditions, then it can be assumed that it could survive on some distant world.
Perhaps biologists have already found alien life that is here on Earth!
Tardigrades and their habitat
In 2007, the Space Shuttle Endeavor went into space with special passengers on board as part of a very important experiment. These passengers are often called “water bears”, but their real name is tardigrades.
These small creatures, about a millimeter in size, are perhaps the most common and hardiest creatures on Earth. Tardigrades are found everywhere from Antarctica to jungles, deserts and snow-capped mountains. In fact, in any climate you can think of, tardigrades are bound to live.
The hardiest creatures
Tardigrades can go for decades without food and water. If unfavorable, life-threatening conditions occur, then they are able to curl up into “balls” and plunge into suspended animation; in this state, their metabolism slows down to 0.01% of its normal rate. In this state, tardigrades can survive the extremely high and low temperatures, pressures, humidity, and acidity found on our planet.
Fossils indicate that tardigrades inhabited different parts of the Earth hundreds of millions of years ago, and it is likely that tardigrades appeared much earlier. The Earth went through many stages of development, climatic conditions changed radically on its surface, but despite all this, the mighty “water bears” survived.
However, none of the above explains why they were included in the Endeavor mission.
Tardigrades survive in space
Scientists have known about tardigrades since the dawn of microbiology. They were carefully studied, placed in various environments, to find out how they adapt to new conditions. Until recently, there was only one environment in which biologists could not observe tardigrades – the vacuum of space. Therefore, when the opportunity arose, it was decided to send water bears into space and see what would happen to them in such extreme conditions.
Surprisingly, the tardigrades survived. It was a truly amazing discovery, the tiny creature seemed absolutely invincible! The next step in a scientific experiment is to ask why this happens. Why have tardigrades become so hardy? Why did nature give them the ability to survive in the harsh vacuum of space?
There are many theories about this, but we will consider the most interesting and revolutionary.
Tardigrades originated in space?
Evolution has one simple rule: the fittest survive. Animals that are best adapted to a given environment survive and pass on their genes to the next generation. From generation to generation, mutations occur that can give one branch of the family tree a slight advantage, and this will lead to the fact that it begins to dominate other parts of the tree.
If this rule is applied to tardigrades, which we know are able to survive in the vacuum of space, then it should be probable that at some point in their history these creatures actually lived in this environment.
Perhaps the tardigrades flew on an asteroid, plowing through outer space. All tardigrades unable to survive in such conditions died, and those that survived passed on these unique traits to their offspring.
Essentially, this theory says that tardigrades have evolved the ability to survive in space because they may have actually come from outer space. Perhaps the tardigrades that we see on Earth today are the descendants of real aliens who made a hard landing millions or even billions of years ago.
Tardigrades landed on an asteroid?
At first, it may seem a bit far-fetched that tardigrades originated outside of Earth. However, we must remember that the early solar system was a highly unstable place. Previously, many more space rocks orbited the Sun, regularly colliding with asteroids, protoplanets, planets, and moons.
We know for sure that massive asteroids fell on all the planets of the solar system. If the fall falls on the surface of a solid planet, then part of the material is knocked out and thrown into outer space. Then some of these fragments can leave the orbit of the planet and travel enormous distances before they crash onto the surface of some other body in the solar system or even beyond.
Numerous meteorites have been found on Earth, which research has confirmed are fragments of Mars , confirming the reality of the scenario described above.
If a group of tardigrades were in the right place during the impact of a large asteroid , then they could survive the heat of the collision, and after ejection into outer space, they could endure severe cold and vacuum; also, nothing would prevent them from surviving upon entering the earth’s atmosphere and even during an impact on the surface of our planet.
Are tardigrades proof of extraterrestrial life?
Multiple experimental confirmation of the survival of tardigrades in extreme conditions (heat, cold, vacuum, etc.) suggests that the scenario described above could indeed be realized in the distant past. If this theory is confirmed, then we will have irrefutable evidence of the existence of extraterrestrial life and the fact that tardigrades are actually descendants of aliens.
The tiny water bear can play a key role in our quest to understand the world around us. If tardigrades arrived from another planet millions, or maybe billions of years ago, then it is entirely possible that life on Earth originated from some unknown alien species.
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