I just got struck by curiosity now: Intuition says no, but I've never had confirmation of it.

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    $\begingroup$ Define life. You can probably get viral spores that can survive and even some extremophile bacteria but in a dormant state. Would you consider something that is not interacting with its environment in any way at the moment alive? $\endgroup$
    – terdon
    Commented Apr 13, 2014 at 16:11
  • $\begingroup$ See very similar question and answers here: biology.stackexchange.com/questions/2700/… $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 1:29
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    $\begingroup$ nobody has had confirmation of this - with the possible exception of the tardigrade in space experiment and those like it in the ISS/space shuttle. $\endgroup$
    – shigeta
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 2:57
  • $\begingroup$ You could build robots that feed on debris, like man made satellites, that satisfy common definitions of life (e.g. Reproduce, have a metabolism etc). In general life as we know it does not do well in space because it is very cold, and not much chemically is going on to support metabolic processes. The lack of food, water and the vacuum make it rough as well. $\endgroup$
    – Beo
    Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 2:47

3 Answers 3


As @terdon comments, dormant organisms can survive in vacuum. This includes lichens, bacteria, and even an animal: the ever-amazing and adorable tardigrade (Jönnson et al 2008). In 2006, tardigrades survived exposure to the vacuum of outer space with no appreciable difference in mortality compared to controls.

CC by-nc-ca by Goldstein lab - tardigrades

Tardigrade Hypsibius dujardini, a different genus than the ones sent into space, but probably equally hardy. Photo by Bob Goldstein & Vicky Madden (CC by-nc-ca via Goldstein lab - tardigrades on flickr).

Jönsson, K. I. et al (2008). Tardigrades survive exposure to space in low Earth orbit. Current Biology 18(17):R729–R731

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    $\begingroup$ Be able to survive it is quite different from living permanently in it... $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 5:54
  • $\begingroup$ I agree! Which is why I upvoted your answer. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 11:33

No, it is not. Or at least not in the form we know life. The reason is that water (which is essential for life) boils at low pressures at room temperature. This makes life impossible in the form we live it on earth.


No, because some kind of fluid (liquid or gas) is necessary to supply resources and carry away wastes. Bacterial spores, tardigrades, etc. are in a dormant state when in a vacuum.


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