Tardigrade Resistance to Space Effects: first results of experiments on the LIFE-TARSE mission on FOTON-M3 (September 2007)

Astrobiology. Jul-Aug 2009;9(6):581-91. doi: 10.1089/ast.2008.0305.


The Tardigrade Resistance to Space Effects (TARSE) project, part of the mission LIFE on FOTON-M3, analyzed the effects of the space environment on desiccated and active tardigrades. Four experiments were conducted in which the eutardigrade Macrobiotus richtersi was used as a model species. Desiccated (in leaf litter or on paper) and hydrated tardigrades (fed or starved) were flown on FOTON-M3 for 12 days in September 2007, which, for the first time, allowed for a comparison of the effects of the space environment on desiccated and on active animals. In this paper, we report the experimental design of the TARSE project and data on tardigrade survival. In addition, data on survival, genomic DNA integrity, Hsp70 and Hsp90 expressions, antioxidant enzyme contents and activities, and life history traits were compared between hydrated starved tardigrades flown in space and those maintained on Earth as a control. Microgravity and radiation had no effect on survival or DNA integrity of active tardigrades. Hsp expressions between the animals in space and the control animals on Earth were similar. Spaceflight induced an increase of glutathione content and its related enzymatic activities. Catalase and superoxide dismutase decreased with spaceflight, and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances did not change. During the flight mission, tardigrades molted, and females laid eggs. Several eggs hatched, and the newborns exhibited normal morphology and behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Desiccation
  • Exobiology*
  • Female
  • Food Deprivation
  • Genome / genetics
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Glutathione Reductase / metabolism
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Life Cycle Stages
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Ovum / cytology
  • Spacecraft*
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism
  • Survival Analysis
  • Temperature


  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • DNA
  • Catalase
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Glutathione Reductase
  • Glutathione