The Tardigrade invasion of the moon has begun, is this the first step to spread life on the moon?...All joking aside, do you think they can survive on the moon long term?... A Crashed Israeli Lunar Lander Spilled Tardigrades on the Moon Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are microscopic animals that can survive for years without food or water. And now they're on the moon! It was just before midnight on April 11 and everyone at the Israel Aerospace Industries mission control center in Yehud, Israel, had their eyes fixed on two large projector screens. On the left screen was a stream of data being sent back to Earth by Beresheet, its lunar lander, which was about to become the first private spacecraft to land on the moon. The right screen featured a crude animation of Beresheet firing its engines as it prepared for a soft landing in the Sea of Serenity. But only seconds before the scheduled landing, the numbers on the left screen stopped. Mission control had lost contact with the spacecraft, and it crashed into the moon shortly thereafter. Half a world away, Nova Spivack watched a livestream of Beresheet’s mission control from a conference room in Los Angeles. As the founder of the Arch Mission Foundation, a nonprofit whose goal is to create “a backup of planet Earth,” Spivack had a lot at stake in the Beresheet mission. The spacecraft was carrying the foundation’s first lunar library, a DVD-sized archive containing 30 million pages of information, human DNA samples, and thousands of tardigrades, those microscopic “water bears” that can survive pretty much any environment—including space. But when the Israelis confirmed Beresheet had been destroyed, Spivack was faced with a distressing question: Did he just smear the toughest animal in the known universe across the surface of the moon? SpaceIL's Beresheet was the first privately funded lunar lander to attempt to touch down on the moon. It ended with a crash on April 11. In the weeks following the Beresheet crash, Spivack pulled together the Arch Mission Foundation’s advisers in an attempt to determine whether the lunar library had survived the crash. Based on their analysis of the spacecraft’s trajectory and the composition of the lunar library, Spivack says he is quite confident that the library—a roughly DVD-sized object made of thin sheets of nickel—survived the crash mostly or entirely intact. In fact, the decision to include DNA samples and tardigrades in the lunar library may have been key to its survival. “For the first 24 hours we were just in shock,” Spivack says. “We sort of expected that it would be successful. We knew there were risks but we didn’t think the risks were that significant.” Spivack is no stranger to the hazards of space exploration. In the late 1990s, the serial entrepreneur used money from his web company’s initial public offering to hitch a ride to the edge of space with the Russian Air Force and to become an angel investor in the Zero Gravity Corporation, which commercialized parabolic flights in the US. But when Spivack founded the Arch Mission Foundation in 2015, he wanted to do something different. The plan was to create archives of all human knowledge that could last for millions, if not billions, of years, and to seed them across Earth and throughout the solar system. The Arch Mission Foundation sent its first archive to space in 2018 in the glove compartment of Elon Musk’s Tesla, which is now in a 30-million-year orbit around the sun. That archive contains Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, which is inscribed in a quartz disc using an experimental 5D optical technology developed by physicists at the University of Southampton. But that storage medium has limitations. Digital technologies and encoding standards are great for compressing lots of information into a small amount of space, but they are also short-lived—how many people do you know who could play a VHS tape today? If you want to create a library for humans thousands or millions of years in the future, your best bet is to keep it analog. But analog storage takes up a lot of room. So sending the bulk of human knowledge to space will require a lot of compression. To do this, Spivack tapped Bruce Ha, a scientist who developed a technique for engraving high-resolution, nano-scale images into nickel. Ha uses lasers to etch an image into glass and then deposits nickel, atom by atom, in a layer on top. The images in the resulting nickel film look holographic and can be viewed using a microscope capable of 1000x magnification—a technology that has been available for hundreds of years. The lunar library on the Beresheet lander consisted of 25 layers of nickel, each only a few microns thick. The first four layers contain roughly 60,000 high-resolution images of book pages, which include language primers, textbooks, and keys to decoding the other 21 layers. Those layers hold nearly all of the English Wikipedia, thousands of classic books, and even the secrets to David Copperfield’s magic tricks. .