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UW Scientist Joins Worldwide Broadcast from International Space Station

January 25, 2021
head photo of a man
Thomas Boothby

A University of Wyoming molecular biologist whose research focuses on tardigrades will participate in the first Story Time from Space live program Tuesday, Jan. 26. The program will be beamed from the International Space Station.

UW Assistant Professor Thomas Boothby will join a live downlink for children featuring a story about tardigrades, also known as water bears. The program is scheduled from 10:30 a.m.-noon MST. To watch the program, go to www.storytimefromspace.com/live. Technical issues prevented the event from happening during its original date last September, Boothby says.

Astronaut Shannon Walker, aboard the space station, will read “Willow the Water Bear” by Houston Kidd and then answer questions from children around the world. Boothby, in the UW College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, will help answer questions about tardigrades and his research at UW. He and Kidd will join astronauts Alvin Drew and Bjarni Tryggvason, and author and astrophysicist Jeffrey Bennett.

Boothby and his UW colleagues are studying how the diminutive creatures -- less than half a millimeter long -- can survive being completely dried out; being frozen to just above absolute zero (about minus 458 degrees Fahrenheit, 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.

For information about Boothby’s laboratory, personnel and research, go to https://tboothby.weebly.com.

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