Thousands of Tardigrades Are Stranded on the Moon After an Israeli Lunar Lander Crashed

Eraxion/iStock via Getty Images
Eraxion/iStock via Getty Images

Tardigrades, known to many as water bears or moss piglets, may be the cutest organisms you need a microscope to see. They're also remarkably tough: The miniscule creatures are capable of producing glass shields in their cells to protect themselves in extreme conditions, and they can survive almost anywhere, including space. Now, as BBC News reports, their resilience is being put to the test. Last April, an Israeli spacecraft crashed and dumped thousands of tardigrades on the Moon, and mission officials say their chance of survival is "extremely high."

The spacecraft that crash-landed on the moon last spring had been carrying a "backup of planet Earth." The mission was organized by the Arch Mission Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to amass libraries of human knowledge and history and store them in various spots around the solar system for safekeeping. This particular collection contained human DNA samples, a CD-ROM-like disc inscribed with 30 million pages of information, and dehydrated tardigrades.

The lunar library hitched a ride aboard Israel Aerospace Industries' Beresheet spacecraft in what was to be the first-ever private Moon landing. The endeavor failed at the last minute when the lander's main engine malfunctioned as it approached the Moon's surface, resulting in a collision. The Beresheet spacecraft may not have survived the journey, but according to Arch Mission Foundation CEO Nova Spivack, its thousands of tardigrades passengers likely did.

When tardigrades are dehydrated, they're virtually indestructible. In the face of danger, they enter this near-death state on their own and manage without food, water, or even air until conditions improve. They can live this way for decades without an issue, and when they're rehydrated, they instantly resume life as normal.

Spivack's prediction that the tardigrades are doing fine on the Moon is more than just a hunch: The creatures have been brought to space before and survived. This case, however, isn't a controlled experiment, and introducing a new species to the surface of the Moon could have unforeseen consequences. Humans have left objects on the Moon before—like golf balls, art, and even feces—but never such complex living organisms.

If the lunar library remained intact through the crash, it may be possible for future missions to retrieve it and conduct tests on the tardigrades once they are brought back to Earth. Until then, there's a strong likelihood that Earth is no longer the only celestial body in our solar system that's supporting life.

[h/t BBC News]

This Smart Accessory Converts Your Instant Pot Into an Air Fryer

Amazon
Amazon

If you can make a recipe in a slow cooker, Dutch oven, or rice cooker, you can likely adapt it for an Instant Pot. Now, this all-in-one cooker can be converted into an air fryer with one handy accessory.

This Instant Pot air fryer lid—currently available on Amazon for $80—adds six new cooking functions to your 6-quart Instant Pot. You can select the air fry setting to get food hot and crispy fast, using as little as 2 tablespoons of oil. Other options include roast, bake, broil, dehydrate, and reheat.

Many dishes you would prepare in the oven or on the stovetop can be made in your Instant Pot when you switch out the lids. Chicken wings, French fries, and onion rings are just a few of the possibilities mentioned in the product description. And if you're used to frying being a hot, arduous process, this lid works without consuming a ton of energy or heating up your kitchen.

The lid comes with a multi-level air fry basket, a broiling and dehydrating tray, and a protective pad and storage cover. Check it out on Amazon.

For more clever ways to use your Instant Pot, take a look at these recipes.

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Look Up! June’s Strawberry Moon Will Light Up Skies Friday Night

Nathaniel Taylor/iStock via Getty Images
Nathaniel Taylor/iStock via Getty Images

If you're looking for an outdoor activity to ring in the summer months, look up at the sky this Friday. As USA Today reports, a strawberry moon—a.k.a. June's full moon—will reach peak visibility the afternoon of June 5 and light up skies throughout the night. Here's everything you need to know to catch the celestial event.

Why Is It Called a Strawberry Moon?

Each month's full moon has a special name that's tied to the time of year when it appears. June is the start of strawberry-picking season in parts of North America, which has earned it the sweet nickname among some Native American tribes. June's full moon is also known as the honey moon or the full rose moon in Europe.

Some years the strawberry moon marks the first full moon of summer, but the summer solstice will still be a couple of weeks off when this one shows up. In some parts of the country, warmer weather has already arrived, which makes the strawberry moon a great excuse to kick off your summer sky-gazing season early.

When to Watch the Strawberry Moon

In 2020, the strawberry moon will reach its fullest state at 3:12 p.m. EDT on Friday, June 5. If you're in North America, the moon won't be visible until later in the evening, but it will still look full and bright even after it's passed its peak. At moonrise, which occurs roughly around 8:30 p.m. along the East Coast tonight, the moon will emerge in the east and continue to hug the horizon as it moves through the night sky.

The strawberry moon isn't pink as its name suggests, but it is the most colorful moon of the lunar calendar. Because it never rises too far above the horizon, its light gets filtered by more of the atmosphere, making it look orange or yellow from your backyard.

[h/t USA Today]