Earth's hardiest species likely to survive 'until the Sun dies'

Earth's hardiest species likely to survive 'until the Sun dies'

Otherwise known as a water bear, these water-dwelling, eight-legged, segmented micro-animals are as close to indestructible as we have on Earth.

His Oxford colleague, Dr. Sloan, said their study was focused on how events like supernovae would affect the tardigrade. They analyzed the probabilities of certain disasters, judged that Earth will not experience a calamity in which all its water is boiled off, and therefore concluded that tardigrades will be around until the sun explodes and engulfs our planet.

Scientists scored the survival of the species over three rounds of tests which simulated a large asteroid impact, a blast from an exploding supernova star and a gamma ray burst, which is a very big explosion thought to be caused by a star collapsing.

The existence of the tardigrade also gives hope for the search for extra-terrestrial life, Dr Alves Batista said.

In highlighting the resilience of life in general, the research broadens the scope of life beyond Earth, within and outside of this solar system. Once life emerges, it is surprisingly resilient and hard to destroy, and tardigrades are the toughest, most resilient form of life on earth, able to survive for up to 30 years without food or water, and endure temperature extremes of up to 150 degrees Celsius, the deep sea and even the frozen vacuum of space.

"The discovery of extremophiles in such locations would be a significant step forward in bracketing the range of conditions for life to exist on planets around other stars", said Loeb, with the paper published this week in Scientific Reports.

None of the events - which would wipe out many species on Earth, humans included - would be powerful enough to "boil off" the planet's oceans. "For the tardigrades to inherit the Earth, whatever catastrophe swept over the planet would have to return to normal-ish conditions within a matter of decades at most, or it really could be curtains", he said.

"To our surprise, we found that although nearby supernovas or large asteroid impacts would be catastrophic for people, tardigrades could be unaffected", he added. Even subtle changes to our environment can have a drastic effect on our health.

We don't have the money to put humans on Mars
Then, in March, that mandate became a bill which granted NASA $19.5 billion to fund humanity's first voyage to the Red Planet . However, NASA recently announced that they won't be able to get humans to Mars due to their current budget.

Tardigrades, which are usually less than a millimeter long (0.04 inches), are almost indestructible, some of the most resilient forms of life on Earth. These explosions occur when enormous stars collapse or neutron stars collide; they're even rarer than supernovae, and astronomers have only seen them in distant galaxies.

Batista emphasized that humanity is considerably less resilient than tardigrades.

"Huge numbers of species, or even entire genera may become extinct, but life as a whole will go on", he said.

But unlike the cockroach, the Tardigrade will survive until the sun dies or an asteroid impact boils off our oceans, according to a new Oxford Uni study.

Researchers say there is a chance that a supernova, an exploding star, could be big enough to wipe out life on Earth within our sun's lifetime and this event is negligible.

"Life on this planet can continue long after humans are gone".

Gamma-ray bursts, one of the brightest phenomena in outer space, are also too distant to pose a threat (they'd have to be 40 light-years away or less).

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