Tardigrades, also called water bears because of their microscopic teddy or panda bear-like appearance have been known to exist in a dormant state for a decade or more. Some have even survived hitchhiked rides on rockets to orbit and survived the deadly environment of space. The Israeli lunar mission was carrying several thousand of the microscopic critters when in crash-landed on the moon in April. They have the enviable ability to put themselves into a sort of state of suspended animation called cryptobiosis. In other words, when living conditions become less than ideal, they can curl themselves up, dry themselves out and become relatively impervious to the outside world until conditions improve. Given their ability to hibernate for decades, it’s remotely possible that some of them could be collected and re-animated (rehydrated) by future lunar explorers!
Although the Perseid Meteor Shower is the year’s best shower, it will be compromised this year due to an almost full moon that will make viewing a challenge.
Muddy Run Observatory Sky and Star Festival takes place today- A great family event, from noon to 11 p.m. at Muddy Run Park in Holtwood, PA. I’ll be presenting tonight in between telescopic observing at the region’s newest observatory under very dark skies.
Viewing highlights at the Franklin Institute Night Skies at the Observatory on Tuesday include the moon, Jupiter and Saturn.