Hugh Bollinger
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Bears in space

Animals can survive in space. At least one, anyway. The water bear, a microorganism any mother could love, [caption id="" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Water bear"]water bear [/caption] is going up for another round of extreme testing. These guys survived 10 days in the cold vacuum of space in 2007. When they returned home and reproduced, they were triumphantly given ticker tape parades. Fittingly, this little guy is going on t-shirts. And he's getting another test. On Monday, the space shuttle Endeavour brought up a batch of water bears to give them another workout to see how the hardiest animal known stands up to the brutality of space. It's always the animals that are the true pioneers. Fruit flies were the first animals to break the bonds of Earth, the true Vikings. Then a Russian dog went up, man's best friend. Could we be that far from getting water bears onto another planet? Just build one a little habitat and send him over there? That would be quite a coup, no? An American water bear, the first Martian explorer. - RC
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