The Beresheet spacecraft that crash landed on the Moon in April may not have survived the impact, but it’s quite possible that its living payload may have survived and will yet live to tell the tale.
On board Israel's Beresheet spacecraft are thousands of almost indestructible, microscopic creatures called tardigrades which are able to withstand extreme radiation, the burning heat and freezing temperatures of space, and years without food.
Known as “moss piglets” or “water bears” they live on water-based plants such as lichen and moss and can reside in conditions ranging from icy polar extremities to warm equatorial regions.
In an attempt to create a "Noah's ark" or a "back-up" for the Earth, non-profit organisation The Arch Mission sent a lunar library -- a stack of DVD-sized disks that acts as an archive of 30 million pages of information about the planet -- to the moon aboard Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft. Along with the library, Arch Mission sent human DNA samples and a payload of tardigrades, which had been dehydrated, into space, CNN reported.
"We chose them because they are special. They are the toughest form of life we know of. They can survive practically any planetary cataclysm. They can survive in the vacuum of space, they can survive radiation," Nova Spivack, co-founder of the Arch Mission Foundation, told CNN.
Spivack added that the minute creatures, which are under a millimetre in size, had been dehydrated to place them in suspended animation, then "encased in an epoxy of Artificial Amber, and should be revivable in the future," Yahoo News reported.
According to the CNN report, although the animals won't be able to reproduce or move around in their dehydrated state -- if they have indeed survived the crash -- if rehydrated they could come back to life years later.
Given the importance of preserving humanity and its knowledge, researchers hope that along with the tardigrades, the majority of the information from the lunar library survived the impact of the crash -- and could be used to regenerate human life in millions of years.
"From the DNA and the cells that we included, you could clone us and regenerate the human race and other plants and animals," Spivack told CNN.
Click here to read more about the aims of the Arch Mission Foundation and its Lunar Library aboard SpaceIL Beresheet lunar lander.