The scientists have always tried to find ways to make astronauts better equipped to travel in space. A new study finding indicates using genetic modification through Tardigrade DNA can help the astronauts cope with hurdles of space travel. The DNA of the marine creature can be used to modify Humans, and then they can cope with the effects of spaceflight, including radiation. The Tardigrades are almost immune to the vacuum of space, freezing temperature, and radiation.
The tardigrade is a microscopic vertebrate with a unique nuclear protein that safeguards it from radiation. The scientists want to blend it with human cells. They are also known as water bears, and the scientists have found the creatures surviving conditions in which no other creature could live. There are over 900 species of Tardigrades. They have eight legs with claws resembling that of a bear. The fantastic thing is that these tiny creatures can survive exposure to extreme heat, dehydration, and radiation and still be alive for as long as 200 years. The Tardigrades have existed for almost 530 million years, and they also outlived the dinosaurs. They can sustain without water for a decade and manage to survive in space.
Chris Mason, a professor of NY’s Weill Cornell University and a geneticist, thinks DNA is the way to make humans survive woes of space travel. The primary issue involved in space travel is high and recurring radiation levels. On average, the astronauts get exposed to radiation 700 times more than the earth. The researchers are now trying to combine the DNA of varying species with that of the humans to make the latter more resilient to the harmful effects of traveling in space. Mason thinks this technology can also be used for medicinal needs. For example, this technology can be useful for reducing the impact of radiation on people during cancer treatments. However, this experimentation is at an early stage, and it may take a couple of decades before such genetically modified humans can be sent to space.