A University of Wyoming molecular biologist will participate in a Story Time from Space program Monday beamed from the International Space Station.
Thomas Boothby is joining a live downlink for children featuring a story about tardigrades, also known as water bears. Tardigrades are a special focus of the assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Biology.
Astronaut Chris Cassidy on the ISS will read “Willow the Water Bear” by Houston Kidd and then answer questions from children around the world.
Boothby, in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, will help answer questions about tardigrades and his research at UW. He is joining other special guests astronauts Alvin Drew and Bjarni Tryggvason, author and astrophysicist Jeffrey Bennett and Kidd.
Boothby and his colleagues at UW are studying how the diminutive, less than half a millimeter long, creatures can survive being completely dried out, being frozen to just above absolute zero (about -458 degrees F, when all molecular motion stops), heated to more than 300 degrees Fahrenheit, irradiated several thousand times beyond what a human could withstand and survive the vacuum of outer space.
Boothby’s lab has prepared an experiment that is scheduled to hitch a ride this November on a SpaceX rocket to the ISS. That experiment will study if tardigrades cope with the stresses of space the same as on earth.
Information about his laboratory, personnel and research is at https://tboothby.weebly.com.