Biodiversity

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  • Article: A Group of Tardigrades Crashed Into the Moon in April. The Indestructable Critters Could Still Be Alive
    "A horde of microscopic critters called tardigrades were passengers aboard the Israeli spacecraft Beresheet, which crashed into the lunar surface nearly four months ago. But because tardigrates can survive in extreme environments, it's likely these tiny astronauts are still alive. The microscopic organisms can go without water and oxygen for long periods of time in a state of suspended animation called cryptobiosis, in which their bodies dry up and their metabolisms shut down."
  • Article: Could Future Homes on the Moon and Mars Be Made of Fungi?
    "Science fiction often imagines our future on Mars and other planets as run by machines, with metallic cities and flying cars rising above dunes of red sand. But the reality may be even stranger – and "greener." Instead of habitats made of metal and glass, NASA is exploring technologies that could grow structures out of fungi to become our future homes in the stars, and perhaps lead to more sustainable ways of living on Earth as well."
  • Article: Is Mars' Soil Too Dry to Sustain Life?
    "Life as we know it needs water to thrive. Even so, we see life persist in the driest environments on Earth. But how dry is too dry? At what point is an environment too extreme for even microorganisms, the smallest and often most resilient of lifeforms, to survive? These questions are important to scientists searching for life beyond Earth, including on the planet Mars. To help answer this question, a research team from NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley traveled to the driest place on Earth: the Atacama Desert in Chile, a 1000 kilometer strip of land on South America’s west coast."
  • Article: NASA Fosters Innovative Ways to Understand Biodiversity
    "To study and monitor changes in Earth’s biodiversity, or the immense volume of organisms in the world, scientists and citizen scientists record their sightings in the field. At the same time, sensors on the ground and on board satellites and aircraft monitor flora and fauna on a regional to global scale. NASA has funded four projects to create new, virtual portals that bring into focus this wealth of biodiversity information to help inform scientists, land managers and decision makers around the world regarding the status and health of terrestrial ecosystems. Each of these projects highlights a different aspect of biodiversity and lets users create easy-to-use maps and other information products to track healthy and vulnerable species as they compete for resources, migrate to safer habitats and adapt to climate change."
  • Dr. Greg Cajete on native science and biodiversity loss
    BioSTEAM: Dr. Greg Cajete talks about native science and biodiversity loss
  • PDF: Biodiversity from Space
    Mapping and quantifying biodiversity is key to effective conservation planning, yet gathering the necessary data can be costly and time-consuming. Conservationists and land managers therefore place a premium on methods, such as remote sensing, that yield tolerable estimates of biodiversity in the absence of exhaustive ground surveys. Bawa et al. have tested a method of estimating tree diversity from space. Their study, conducted in the Biligiri Rangaswamy hills in the Western Ghats, India, shows a strong and positive correlation between species richness and an index of green biomass—the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)—which can be assessed accurately using satellite imagery. This technique shows promise for estimating broad patterns of tree species diversity at the landscape scale in tropical forests, which may be crucial to identifying areas most in need of protection and where rapid destruction is underway. — AMS
  • Resource: DNA Building Blocks Can Be Made In Space
    "NASA-funded researchers have evidence that some building blocks of DNA, the molecule that carries the genetic instructions for life, found in meteorites were likely created in space. The research gives support to the theory that a "kit" of ready-made parts created in space and delivered to Earth by meteorite and comet impacts assisted the origin of life."
  • Video: How We'll Find Life On Other Planets
    Astronomer Aomawa Shields searches for clues that life might exist elsewhere in the universe by examining the atmospheres of distant exoplanets. When she isn't exploring the heavens, the classically trained actor (and TED Fellow) looks for ways to engage young women in the sciences using theater, writing and visual art. "Maybe one day they'll join the ranks of astronomers who are full of contradictions," she says, "and use their backgrounds to discover, once and for all, that we are truly not alone in the universe."- TED 2015
  • Video: Icarus Initiative: Wildlife Observation from Space
  • Video: Is There Life On Other Planets?
    Could there be life on other planets? Did life come to Earth from space? Have we already found evidence that aliens exist?
  • Video: Life On Other Planets- Crash Course Kids #45.1
    "Have you ever wondered if there is anyone (or anything) else out there in the universe? Well, you're not alone. But what would alien life look like? And what would their food chains and food webs look like? In this episode of Crash Course Kids, Sabrina gives us some ideas about what we might find out there... some day."
  • Video: Meet the Tarigrade The Toughest Animal on Earth
    "Without water, a human can only survive for about 100 hours. But there’s a creature so resilient that it can go without it for decades. This 1-millimeter animal can survive both the hottest and coldest environments on earth, and can even withstand high levels of radiation. Thomas Boothby introduces us to the tardigrade, one of the toughest creatures on Earth."- TED-Ed
  • Video: Tardigrades Are the Toughest Animal on Earth That Can Survive Space and Volcanos
    "Tardigrades, also known as water bears or moss piglets, are the toughest and probably the weirdest animal species on Earth. Tardigrades are eight-legged micro-animals that can withstand just about anything, from mass extinctions to the vacuum of outer space, to the pressure of the Mariana Trench, the deepest point on Earth, and radiation 1,000 times stronger than humans can handle"
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