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Tardigrade Survival Limits in High-Speed Impacts—Implications for Panspermia and Collection of Samples from Plumes Emitted by Ice Worlds

Traspas Muina, Alejandra, Burchell, Mark J. (2021) Tardigrade Survival Limits in High-Speed Impacts—Implications for Panspermia and Collection of Samples from Plumes Emitted by Ice Worlds. Astrobiology, 21 (9). ISSN 1531-1074. (doi:10.1089/ast.2020.2405) (KAR id:88087)

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https://doi.org/10.1089/ast.2020.2405

Abstract

The ability of tardigrades to survive impact shocks in the kilometer per second and gigapascal range was investigated. When rocks impact planetary surfaces, the impact speeds and shock pressures are in the kilometer per second and gigapascal range. This investigation tested whether tardigrades can survive in impacts typical of those that occur naturally in the Solar System. We found that they can survive impacts up to 0.9 km s-1, which is equivalent to 1.14 GPa shock pressure, but cannot survive impacts above this. This is significantly less than the static pressure limit and has implications for tardigrade survival in panspermia models. The potential survival of tardigrades in impacts of terrestrial impact ejecta on the Moon is shown to be impossible for the average lunar impact speed of such ejecta. However, a notable fraction (around 40%) of such ejecta impact at vertical speeds low enough to permit survival. Similarly, martian impact ejecta striking Phobos, for example, at a typical im�pact speed will not permit viable transfer of tardigrade-like organisms, but if a fraction of such material had a lower impact speed, survival may be possible. We also consider the implications of this for the collection of viable samples by spacecraft transiting the plumes of icy water worlds such as Europa and Enceladus. We have found the limit on survival of shocks to be around 1 GPa, which is instrumental in determining appropriate mission scenarios and collection methods for the acquisition of viable materials.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1089/ast.2020.2405
Projects: [UNSPECIFIED] Planetary Science at Kent 2019 - 2022
Uncontrolled keywords: Panspermia, Europa, Enceladus, hypervelocity impacts
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy > QB651 Planets, Minor
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Physics and Astronomy
Depositing User: Mark Burchell
Date Deposited: 13 May 2021 14:58 UTC
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2021 14:07 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/88087 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Burchell, Mark J.: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2680-8943
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