Why Leave Moss Piglets On The Moon?

August 18, 2019

Shouldn’t the question be: Why not? Arch Mission, a nonprofit organization, was tasked with sending a little sample of planet Earth to the moon. That package included 30 million pages about Earth that was burned onto DVDs, human DNA samples, and … moss piglets. Moss piglets? Yes. They’re less than a millimeter long and scientists believe they can survive anywhere. That’s why these eight-legged animals with claws and a sucker for piercing food were dehydrated and then placed on the wings of the Beresheet Spacecraft headed for the moon.

Schokraie E, Warnken U, Hotz-Wagenblatt A, Grohme MA, Hengherr S, et al. (2012) [CC BY 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)]
When it crash-landed, the spacecraft left these tiny animals on the moon. Did they survive? Very possibly. Given that moss piglets can withstand even the harshest of conditions, scientists are hopeful that at least some of them survived. After all, they live in polar regions, the depths of the sea, and other extreme environments on Earth, indicating that they’re very much equipped to survive and live out their days on the moon.

But why send all this stuff in the first place? According to the research team at Arch Mission, the hope is that in the distant future, descendants of humans or other intelligent life forms might discover the archives and artifacts from Earth. Could this little gift actually help recreate the human race millions of years from now? No one knows for sure, but some scientists are ensuring that archives exist on the possibility of that happening.

What would you have put in the package that was sent to the moon?

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