When scientists get bored and have an overabundance of funding, they get to do really cool things like blast bacterium into space, just to see what happens. They recently did just that with the salmonella bacterium, and it came back as a mutant superbug.
One would think the scientists would say “uh oh, that’s not good” and maybe back off a little.
Nah. Now they’re shooting tardigrades up there (found via Boing Boing). Tardigrades, aka “water bears,” are microscopic animals that manage to live in some of the most extreme conditions on Earth and have survived things like radiation and intense heat.
The plan, then, is to see how cosmic rays and other factors affect the little guys. When the tardigrades return, the researchers will examine them and see if their cellular makeup and/or their DNA have been damaged.
Sure, salmonella turned into a superbug in zero g alone. Why not blast these little guys up there, and then expose them to cosmic rays to boot? What the hell, right?
What’s the worst that can happen?