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Moss piglets can even survive the vacuum of space. 3Dstock/Shutterstock

One of Earth’s smallest creatures will boldly go where no earthling has gone before as scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara, plan to send tardigrades to the closest star system, Alpha Centauri. This will make them, along with the nematode worm (Caenorhabditis elegans), the first interstellar species to travel across the great expanse.

The Starlight program, which is part of the UC Santa Barbara Cosmology Group in Experimental Astrophysics, aims to use lasers to propel the tiny creatures in likewise tiny spacecrafts through deep space. In collaboration with the Department of Molecular and Cellular Development Biology at UC Santa Barbara, the scientists are currently researching how make the tardigrades and nematodes the first extrasolar travelers.

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