Time is running out to save the water bears, also known as tardigrades, from a tragic death. We urgently need to raise the money to fund an Elon Musk venture to send a rescue vehicle to get them back to earth safely. A horde of these critters were aboard the Israeli spacecraft Beresheet, which crashed into the lunar surface nearly four months ago.
But because tardigrates can survive in extreme environments, it's likely these tiny astronauts are still alive. The microscopic organisms can go without water and oxygen for long periods of time in a state of suspended animation called cryptobiosis, in which their bodies dry up and their metabolisms shut down. Place a dehydrated tardigrade in water and it regains its full function in a matter of hours.
"Tardigrades in dry state can survive pressures up to 74,000 times the pressure we experience at sea level, so the [crash] impact should not be a problem for them," evolutionary zoologist Roberto Guidetti told Business Insider. "They can stay dry for decades, potentially centuries.