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... what are tardigrades?

Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are 1mm-long creatures which inhabit damp places like lichen and mosses, or tiny ponds on glaciers. They are very hardy and can survive in extreme environments. In 2007, tardigrades were exposed to the vacuum and radiation of space for 10 days, and were then revived. They can withstand radiation levels 1000 times greater than humans can, and survive temperatures colder than have ever been observed on Earth.

For more detailed information about these remarkable creatures, please read these articles:


  1. BBC: Water Bears In Space
  2. How Does The Tiny Waterbear Survive In Outer Space?
  3. Why The Tardigrade Is Nature's Toughest Animal

... what are aeolian processes?

In the study of Geology and Meteorology, aeolian processes are those which pertain to wind; namely the manner in which wind action sculpts and shapes Earth's surface. Beyond our planet, but still within the Solar System, aeolian processes are at work also in shaping the landscapes of Mars and Titan. The adjacent photo, taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, shows how Martian winds have created and moulded sand dunes on the floor of Herschel Crater.

Photo credits: NASA / JPL / University of Arizona

Dunes, Herschel Crater, Mars

... about Prometheus?

Not the 2012 motion picture, but Saturn’s tiny moon. Prometheus was discovered in 1980 by the team of scientists reviewing data from NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft. Elongated and potato-shaped, Prometheus is roughly 148km long and 68km wide. The path of the moon's orbit takes it in and out of Saturn’s F ring, and in so doing directly affects the material in the ring, causing ripples and streamers. For this reason, Prometheus is called a ‘shepherd’ moon. In this category are also the moons Atlas, Daphnis, Epimetheus, Janus, Pan and Pandora.

The adjacent image (captured by the Cassini spacecraft in July 2009) shows how Prometheus affects Saturn's F ring.

Photo credits: NASA / JPL

Prometheus and Saturn's F ring