We often write on the pages of our site about the ambitious space missions of different countries. Not so long ago, for example, we announced the launch of the Bereshit space module of the private Israeli company Space IL. The device was sent to the moon and had to make a soft landing on the satellite. If successful, Israel was to become the fourth country after the USSR, the USA and China, which managed to land the spacecraft on the moon. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. The engine of the device failed during landing, and when its operation was restored, the module did not have time to brake.
What was sent to the moon from the earth
On board the device were many interesting things. If you do not take into account the photo and video equipment, there were two scientific devices on board the space landing module. One of them was a magnetometer. With its help, it was planned to conduct a study of the satellite’s magnetic field. In addition, Bereshit brought with it special laser reflectors. They were provided by the NASA space agency and were to be used to calculate the distance to the moon.
Israeli Bereshit spacecraft crash site
However, on board the spacecraft was another thing that could survive the fall. Together with Bereshit, a DVD-sized container was sent. The container itself is sealed in several layers of special material that protects it from radiation exposure. The container contains the so-called "lunar library", created by the Arch Mission Foundation. It is a digital storage medium, no larger than a coin, consisting of 25 layers of nickel, with a thickness of not more than 40 microns. This is half the thickness of a human hair.
A fragment of the lunar library. Thousands of pages are digitized and printed on nickel layers using a laser. You can only see what is written on them when using a microscope with a 1000x magnification
Copy of the first layer of the lunar library. It contains 1,500 pages of information
The authors of the project explain that the first four layers of the medium contain almost 60,000 digitized pages from classic, scientific, educational books, photographs, illustrations and almost the entire English version of Wikipedia. The 21 layers of this digital medium contain more than 5,000 linguistic dictionaries, cryptographic keys for decrypting information, as well as millions of various articles of a scientific and educational orientation, which contain data on the history and culture of mankind.
Between each nickel layer there is a hardened epoxy resin – the artificial equivalent of amber, in which scientists find various insects and other organisms that lived millions of years ago. DNA samples from 25 people were placed in this resin, as well as something more interesting.
Who are tardigrades?
Tardigrades under the microscope
It turns out that several thousand microscopic invertebrate creatures of tardigrades were sent inside the container to the moon. Despite the size of 0.1-1.5 mm, tardigrades are considered one of the most tenacious organisms on Earth. Represented by 400 species. More than 120 of them live in Russia.
See also: Tardigrades will be able to survive the fall of an asteroid and a supernova explosion
Research and experiments on these creatures show that they are able to survive both at incredibly high (+100 degrees Celsius) and low temperatures (-271 degrees Celsius). In experiments with radiation, half of the studied tardigrades were able to survive the radiation of 570 thousand X-rays. For comparison, the lethal dose of radiation for humans is 500 x-rays. They are able to withstand tremendous pressure, regardless of the environment in which this pressure is created.
They are not afraid of cosmic radiation and the complete absence of oxygen in a vacuum medium. In addition, these organisms can do without water and food for a very long time. Being in extreme conditions they are able to slow down their metabolism to the extent that the proteins contained in the body of these creatures crystallize. As a result, tardigrades become like dried mummies in a cocoon.
Tardigrades in normal (left) and dehydrated (right) condition
In such a half-living state, they can exist for decades, and then, placed in an environment with oxygen and water, come back to life. By the way, in this state, tardigrades were placed in a container that flew to the moon.
Living things on the moon
The authors of the project say that, in theory, tardigrades could survive a fall to the moon. According to experts, the temperature formed when the device hit the satellite’s surface was insufficient to destroy the container. But even if it is destroyed, tardigrades are inside the hardened resin, which can serve as a protective shell for them.
Theoretically, during future manned missions to the satellite, a container with slow-moving can be found. And then, returning them to the environment with oxygen, check whether they could survive.
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