Space Bears – Lab-experience with Tardigrades
In this set of experimental activities, students will investigate the survival abilities of tardigrades, also known as water bears.
They will expose conditions and come to a conclusion about which environments they can survive in. The aim of this resource is to test tardigrades’ resilience to extreme environmental conditions and link their survival ability to the space environment.
Before beginning this activity, we suggest that you complete the activity “Could life survive in alien environments?” which provides an introduction to life in extreme environments.
In this activity, students will learn how and where they can collect tardigrades. They will carry out these steps and prepare tardigrade samples for the following activities.
In this activity, students will transfer their tardigrades to small containers and induce anhydrobiosis by leaving them to desiccate. Students should understand that tardigrades will enter a new metabolic state, in response to the adverse environmental conditions. It is essential that tardigrades enter this tun state in order to survive these extreme environmental conditions.
In this activity, students will expose the dried-in samples to different conditions, simulating extreme environments.
In this activity, students will link the experiments they completed to the quest to find life elsewhere in the Universe.
Did you know?
They were exposed to the vacuum of space for 12 days where they experienced extreme dehydration, alongside high levels of cosmic radiation, and survived!
Biopan, the small container that hosted tardigrades in space
Brief description: In this activity, students will consider whether life found in extreme environments on Earth could survive elsewhere in the Solar System. Students will
Brief description: In this set of activities, students will plan, design and build a landing module to secure the survival of the crew (in the