The international space station has found life in space, but the discovery of these "tardigrades" by cosmonauts has Russian scientists saying how they are both "shocked by [the] discovery and can't really explain how [it] is possible."
In a related report by The Inquisitr, ever since the space shuttle launches were shut down by NASA, our U.S. astronauts have had to rely on Russia to get up to the international space station. Ever since the Ukraine crisis began, tensions between the nations have crept over in to the sciences, and Russia is suggesting we should deliver our astronauts to the ISS "with the help of a trampoline." But hey, at least the ISSpresso espresso machine on the ISS still works so, they can get energized to jump high enough.
That's a joke, but was is not a joke is how these tardigrades managed to get up in space in the first place. The Russian cosmonauts found the living organisms surviving in space when they were doing a space walk intended to clean the vessel. While not exactly alien lifeforms, experts are having difficulty explaining how these creatures, which are presumably alien to space, managed to find a way 205 miles above Earth's surface.
The number of hypotheses range from probable to amusing. The most likely explanation is that these tardigrades, which are a type of sea plankton, managed to hitch a ride on the rockets when the International Space Station was first launched from Baikanour, Kazakhstan, where the plankton are atypical. Others say "uplifting air currents" could have blasted life into space and the tardigrades slapped onto the ISS and started growing. Other suggestions try to lend credence to panspermia theory by suggesting that "organic life may have spread across space traveling on comets and asteroids."
The ability for the tardigrades to survive in space has been known for years now, although the discovery on the ISS was recent and unexpected. Just to prove that scientists have a sense of humor and watch Dr. Who, research into the abilities of the plankton-like creature went under the name TARDIS, or Tardigrades In Space. As you can imagine, that spawned all sorts of fun memes.
Besides being the first known life in space, this hardy microorganism boasts limbs, a mouth, a digestive tract, muscles, and a nervous system. The TARDIS experiment even considered the possibility they may have returned to Earth intact.
" In the past, several biologists have suggested that tardigrades may be one of the few animals that have a chance to come back alive after a trip in real space. Finally we will be able to find out if this is true. At a more mechanistic biological level, exposure of organisms to space conditions will reveal how living cells react to the potentially very stressful impact of space parameters. And organisms that can handle the damaging space parameters will be important sources of knowledge for how to generate the space ecosystems that will be necessary for the more permanent human establishments in space that is envisaged today."
But some scientists have even pondered if the ISS did in fact find alien life in space of a sort, since what if these tardigrades did in fact originate from out there? Makes you want to sit back and drink a cold one while you ponder...