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In 2007, a little known creature called a tardigrade became the first animal to survive exposure to space. It prevailed over sub-zero temperatures, unrelenting solar winds and an oxygen-deprived space vacuum. On Monday, this microscopic cosmonaut has once again hitched a ride into space on the Nasa shuttle Endeavour. Its mission: to help scientists understand more about how this so-called "hardiest animal on Earth" can survive for short periods off it.