Newswise - Not all life was lost in the Columbia breakup during thespace shuttle's reentry into the Earth?s atmosphere on Feb.1, 2003. Hundreds of tiny worms onboard for an experimentsurvived the tragedy. This bolsters the evidence that lifemay travel between planets on meteors and that life may havebeen "seeded" here from Mars billions of years ago, makingus all Martians.
The study is the first to report on animal survival inspace. Reconstruction suggests that the spacecraft?s mainbody broke up at a speed and altitude of Mach 19 and 61 km,respectively. Canisters housing the worms were thrown fromthe craft at a speed of 660 to 1,050 kilometers per hour(kmh), at an altitude between 42 and 32 kilometers aboveEarth. Researchers had suspected that Columbia survived longenough into its breakup to protect the worms from some ofthe aerodynamic forces, frictional heat, shock waves, andthe freezing temperatures of the upper atmosphere.
The recovered canisters containing the worms weren?t openeduntil almost three months after Columbia?s breakup. With alife cycle between seven and 10 days, the live worms wereseveral generations removed from those originally placedinside. The worms were aboard the shuttle as part of aresearch project on long term life in space.
One of the study's suggestions for greater crew survival isthe use of special heat and cold resistant spacesuits, whichwould have the same benefits for astronauts that thecapsules had for the worms. When the Columbia shuttleexploded, astronauts were not required to wear theirspacesuits while inside the shuttle?they only wore themduring spacewalks.
Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk
Who knows what those worms will "remember" and pass on tofuture generations? The legends that we have today maydescribe real events of the past. One author who thinks thisis true isWilliamHenry?and you can hear ALL of Whitley's interviews withWilliam, as well as his shows as guest host of Dreamland, ifyou subscribe(and if you do it today, you?ll also get a free copy ofTheCommunion Letters?while supplies last!)
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