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    Russia sending life to Mars and back November 8th
    Gear  /  News
    Russia is scheduled to send a spacecraft to visit the red planet's moon with a cargo of microbial sightseers, and bring it back to earth. 
    "Russia is scheduled to launch their Phobos-Grunt mission toward Mars as soon as tomorrow. The primary mission of the spacecraft is to land on Phobos (Mars' biggest moon), scoop up some rocks, and bring them back to Earth by 2014. So that's cool. But along for the ride is a special cargo module from the Planetary Society which contains 30 separate forms of life, including bacteria, other microorganisms, and a few of these:

    This is a tardigrade, also known as a water bear. They're microscopic animals (with legs and all) that can reach up to a millimeter in size, and has proven to be spectacularly resilient to heat, cold, dehydration, radiation, the vacuum of space, and pretty much whatever else can be thrown at them. The idea behind this experiment is to see whether it's possible for life (whether it's bacteria or something more complicated) to travel between planets, and if the water bears come back alive, it means that life on Earth could potentially have arrived from Mars, or even beyond.
    "Here's wishing Phobos–Grunt, and its passengers, a safe journey. " John Matson

    Via dvice, scientificamerican

    By Ben on Tue Nov 8 2011
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