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Can tardigrades survive Hypervelocity Impacts?

Traspas Muina, Alejandra (2021) Can tardigrades survive Hypervelocity Impacts? Master of Science by Research (MScRes) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.85582) (KAR id:85582)

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https://doi.org/10.22024/UniKent/01.02.85582

Abstract

There are many objects in space. It may be unlikely that life evolved there, but if material was removed from a planetary surface as impact ejecta it could contain biological materials and then distribute it across space along with the rocks themselves (e.g. Martian meteorites found on Earth). For this idea, Lithopanspermia, to work, the biological materials or even life itself, needs to be able to survive the shock pressures associated with impacts. So, could tardigrades survive this?

This thesis therefore aims to show whether or not microorganisms like tardigrades can survive hypervelocity impacts. This could demonstrate that not only organic compounds, sugars and spores could survive the phenomenon known as panspermia, but also, complex organisms like tardigrades.To achieve this, we used the Light Gas Gun at University of Kent. A shot program was developed and followed to shoot frozen projectiles containing tardigrades. This was done to simulate a possible asteroid or comet which impacts a planetary body, and contains tardigrades frozen in its ice. Optical microscopy was used to detect any survival and to perform different controls on the tardigrade's development throughout this project.The results are discussed in Chapter 4. They show a survival rate of 100% up to ~1GPa. It seems 825 ms-1 is the threshold for tardigrades survival to these high speed impacts. The targets used were sand, and a new target type of water was tested, with preliminary experiments also reported. A set of experiments should be carried out to confirm these results in the future (this is explained in Chapter 5 as future work).

Item Type: Thesis (Master of Science by Research (MScRes))
Thesis advisor: Burchell, Mark J.
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.85582
Uncontrolled keywords: Tardigrades, hypervelocity impacts, survival, Light Gas Gun, Centrifuge, Optical microscopy, panspermia, frozen projectiles.
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > School of Physical Sciences
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2021 18:10 UTC
Last Modified: 19 May 2021 13:55 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/85582 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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