by Justin

Images cranked out by Hubble or other impossible pieces of space technology tend to set the bar for mind-blowing. NASA just released images from one of its latest, and maybe most practical initiatives:

SDO: The Solar Dynamics Observatory is the first mission to be launched for NASA’s Living With a Star (LWS) Program, a program designed to understand the causes of solar variability and its impacts on Earth. SDO is designed to help us understand the Sun’s influence on Earth and Near-Earth space by studying the solar atmosphere on small scales of space and time and in many wavelengths simultaneously.

Unless you’re a pompeii worm, solar activity’s about as important as it gets. In addition to the unbelievable image capture, something useful may be garnered about our relationship to the sun.

This led me to revisiting pompeii worms and the ever-impossible hydrothermal vents at the ocean’s floor, which through the labyrinth of Wikipedia led me to reading about tardigrades. Commonly known as water bears, this is really all you need to know:

Tardigrades are polyextremophiles and are able to survive in extreme environments that would kill almost any other animal. Some can survive temperatures of -273°C, close to absolute zero, temperatures as high as 151 °C (303 °F), 1,000 times more radiation than other animals such as humans, and almost a decade without water. In September 2007, tardigrades were taken into low Earth orbit on the FOTON-M3 mission and for 10 days were exposed to the vacuum of space. After they were returned to Earth, it was discovered that many of them survived and laid eggs that hatched normally, making these the only animals shown to be able to survive the vacuum of space.

THE VACUUM OF SPACE. Cryptobiosis, y’all: the voluntary and reversible suspension of all metabolic functions.