Physics KS3 / GCSE: Why tardigrades can survive in orbit

Dr Kevin Fong demonstrates a tardigrade using a digital light microscope and describes how resilient this animal is.

It can survive high and low temperatures, high and low pressures, and ionising radiation that would seriously damage human DNA.

He uses volunteers from the audience to demonstrate that the DNA in a tardigrade is resilient because it has a much better repair mechanism after being damaged by radiation.

This clip is from the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 2015.

Teacher Notes

Key Stage 3

This could be used to ask students to produce a factsheet or leaflet on the amazing survival characteristics of the tardigrade.

Key Stage 4

Before watching the clip, ask students if they have heard of tardigrades.

After the clip, ask students to discuss the ethics of investigating the survival characteristics of these animals.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching Physics.

This topic appears at KS3 and in OCR, Edexcel, AQA, WJEC KS4/GCSE in England and Wales, CCEA GCSE in Northern Ireland and SQA National 4/5 in Scotland.

More from the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 2015

What is Newton's Canon and Third Law?
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Using Earth’s rotation to launch a rocket
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How the vacuum of space effects the human body
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Resonant Frequency
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Orbital Rendezvous
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What does gas weigh?
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Why are bones weaker in orbit?
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How micro-gravity disorientates us
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The danger of orbital debris
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Demonstrating heat shield material
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Why Earth rock is found on the Moon
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Demonstrating radiation detectors
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How Earth protects us from radiation
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How to recycle urine in space
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