It's often believed that cockroaches will live until the finish of time. But new research says they've met their complement in the tardigrade. This tiny biology will likely be the last one standing after every other complex life on earth is gone.

You are watching: Can a cockroach survive in space


The tardigrade, seen below in this rendered illustration, is most likely to it is in the last complicated living thing left ~ above Earth, a brand-new study says. (3Dstock/Shutterstock)
It's often believed that cockroaches — nature's ultimate survivalist — will certainly live till the finish of time. But brand-new research argues they've met their complement in the tardigrade.

This tiny creature will most likely be the last one stand after all other complex life on planet is gone, says a study published in scientific Reports.

In fact, it states tardigrades will certainly be around for in ~ least another billion years — most likely a lot longer than humans.

Also recognized as "water bears," tardigrades are eight-legged microscopic pets believed to have been on planet for around 500 million years. They live under water and also only prosper to about 0.55 millimetres.

Tardigrades may be small, but they space mighty: they're considered the many resilient form of life on our planet. They can live as much as 30 year without water; make it through in the extremes, such together in the vacuum of an are or in the farthest depth of our oceans; and they have a expectancy of around 60 years.

Devastation indigenous above

With the discovery of exoplanets orbiting sun-like stars, the study team that astrophysicists and a cosmologist wanted to see what it would take for life come exist in together conditions.

"We want to say what to be the type of biology that could survive the many extreme problems on Earth and also use that as a benchmark to watch what could survive elsewhere," claimed co-author and cosmologist David Sloan, indigenous the college of Oxford.

So using Earth, they looked at several of the toughest creatures on our planet. Go into the tardigrade.

From there, they want to view what the would require to kill off the hard critter. They determined that the only way to wipe out the tardigrade was to have the oceans boil completely.

Luckily, naught humans have actually in our arsenal (including every the nuclear weapons in the world) would be qualified of doing this, they concluded. Therefore they turned come the can be fried power: the universe.


The researcher looked at miscellaneous scenarios, consisting of an asteroid impact, a supernova and a gamma-ray burst (GRB). GRBs room short-but-powerful cosmic explosions the emit gamma-ray light, lasting from a couple of milliseconds come minutes.

They room so powerful that castle are about a million sunshine times brighter 보다 the sun, and also brighter 보다 a supernova, which deserve to outshine all the light in its parental galaxy.

If a GRB occurred close enough to Earth, it would strip it of that is atmosphere. However, the still wouldn't be sufficient to cook the oceans, the researcher concluded. The tardigrade would continue to be the most facility life type on the planet, feeding top top single-celled organisms that might live off hydrothermal vents in the ocean.

I'd always thought life together being very, really fragile.- David Sloan , cosmologist therefore what around a supernova — the violent, explosive fatality of a star?

Well, it turns out, over there isn't a star that would certainly die in the manner everywhere close sufficient to earth to affect us.

(Some stars dice in much much less spectacular fashion. If you're curious, the closestly star that can go supernova is IK Pegasi, about 150 light years native Earth.)

The just thing left, the researcher figured, was an asteroid impact. Yet organizations such together NASA's center for Near-Earth object Studies have actually so far found about 95 every cent the all big objects in the solar system — and none are big enough to make our seas boil off into space. 

"You'd need … something very, very big. And also there room only around 17 or 18 objects like that in our solar system," Sloan said. 

So no issue what is thrown in Earth's way, insofar as we know, this microscopic water bears will still be around when, in one exchange rate years, the sun starts its slow, five-billion-year death, the researcher concluded.

Location, location, location

What makes the tardigrade together a an excellent candidate to be the "last guy standing?" It's not just about its adaptability, but also about where that lives.

These creatures deserve to live in ~ the very bottom of our oceans. So also if something to be to strip off our environment or deliver extreme radiation, tardigrades would continue to grow far listed below where deadly radiation might reach.


Ultimately, the is why the tardigrade it s okay the last laugh end the cockroach.

"Not just are weaker to the affect of radiation than the tardigrade … due to the fact that they live ~ above the surface ar of the planet, mostly, if you were to piece the Earth's atmosphere, cockroaches would certainly die off," Sloan said. "But tardigrades, which room underwater, would proceed to live on."

As a cosmologist, Sloan claimed he's amazed at just exactly how hardy tardigrades are.

See more: Billboard Music Award For Top Rock Album, Billboard Music Award For Top Rock Song

"I'd constantly thought of life together being very, an extremely fragile," that said. "It come as a genuine shock come me that, in fact, every these doomsday scenarios are really unlikely to be sufficient to kill off every life.

"The general an outcome to me was a actual surprise. Ns was no expecting that life would be just so resilient."