The Tardigrade (or Water Bear) is a remarkable creature:

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It is able to survive in all sorts of extreme environments (taken from wikipedia):

  • temperatures from just above absolute zero to well above the boiling point of water
  • pressures about six times greater than those found in the deepest ocean trenches
  • ionizing radiation at doses hundreds of times higher than the lethal dose for a human
  • they can go without food or water for more than 10 years, drying out to the point where they are 3% or less water, only to rehydrate, forage, and reproduce
  • and last but not least, they can survive the vacuum of outer space

Are there any other life forms that are known to survive the vacuum of space?

I'm interested in any forms of life, be it plant, animal, prokaryote or some other form (I'm not a biologist).


1 Answer 1


There's a list of micro-organisms tested in outer space here:


But it doesn't say the results of the tests.

Lichens certainly shown to survive:


When it comes to multicellular animals - then apart from the tardigrades, other ones of interest are Bdelloid rotifers

Bdelloid rotifers are radiation resistant animals http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2008/03/24/bdelloid-rotifers-the-worlds-most-radiation-resistant-animals/#.VeOOlflViko

Two especially resistant species of bdelloid rotifers Adineta vaga and Philodina roseola survived 1000 grays of radiation and still had 10% of the population able to reproduce http://www.astrobio.net/topic/origins/extreme-life/radiation-resistant-rotifers/ For the original paper with the figures, see http://www.pnas.org/content/105/13/5139.long They also survive 82 days storage in vacuum (followed by 30 minutes exposure to 100C) http://plankt.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/04/07/plankt.fbt032.full But I can't yet find a record of them flown to space. Do say if anyone knows of one.

On micro-organisms, green algae (cyanobacteria), haloarchaea, radiodurans, are a few of the examples that are strongly UV / radiation resistance and that could survive the near vacuum conditions of the Mars surface.

Here are some of the candidate lifeforms for Mars - that's a near vacuum, for the habitats exposed to the atmosphere, but not all of these could survive the vacuum of space. This is a draft article I did for Wikipedia which turned out to be too specialist for them.


Some of the Expose R microbes survived both Mars and vacuum conditions, but I can't remember which now (when writing that I was more interested in whether they could survive on Mars).

I'll see if I can find a more complete list of the ones that can survive vacuum conditions.


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