Tardigrade and Cyanobacteria - Antarctic microscopy

A photomicrograph of an Antarctic tardigrade and cyanobacteria. Photo © Ariel Waldman


Our newest show in Hohfeld Hall illustrates how life thrives even in the most inhospitable places on Earth—and possibly elsewhere in our Solar System, too. Take your curiosity to the next level by exploring an array of resources below.

Extreme Life is a live, 15-minute program hosted by Morrison Planetarium presenters in Hohfeld Hall. Showtimes are Monday-Friday at 1:40 pm, and Saturday-Sunday at 11:40 am, 1:40 pm, and 3:40 pm.


Extremophile fact cards

Yeti crab specimen against a black background

Download, print, and share PDF fact cards for four all-stars from Extreme Life.


Extreme environments, extreme scientists

Click the links below to learn more about Earth’s extreme ecosystems—and meet some of the scientists studying them.

  • "Deep Hydrothermal Vent" Despite the crushing pressure and superheated water, nutrient-rich compounds support unique sea floor ecosystems teeming with life. Via oceana.org
  • "Life on the Rocks" Journey to the bottom of the ocean to uncover clues about the mysterious origins of life—and how it might evolve elsewhere in the Universe. Via scientificamerican.com
  • "Life Under the Ice" See Antarctica’s bizarre marine life under the microscope with Ariel Waldman’s Life Under the Ice project, produced with support from the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society. Learn more on Ariel's YouTube channel.
  • "Antarctica’s Upside Down World" Believe it or not, the underside of Antarctic ice shelves is incredibly biodiverse. See what thrives in the darkness. Via bioGraphic.com
  • "From Earth's Caves - A Better Understanding of Mars" Meet cave scientist Penny Boston, who explores underground ecosystems and the strange creatures that call them home, to get a sense of where to look for life off Earth. Via nasa.gov
  • "Searching for Life on Earth to Find Life on Mars" Thanks to its dryness, the Atacama Desert in Chile is a great dress rehearsal for an actual expedition to Mars. See some of the equipment astrobiologists are testing out in this harsh environment. Via seti.org

It’s tardigrade time!

Video still of tardigrade floating in space from Academy's Extreme Life program

Tiny, strange, adorable tardigrades (affectionately known as “water bears”) live in more places on Earth than humans do, so practically any handful of water has a chance of containing some. The easiest way to find them, however, is to look in wet moss.


Focus on the little things

Girl looking through a microscope

There’s a whole other world under the microscope. Join the San Francisco Microscopical Society to learn about and grow your microscopy practice. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram!


Is anyone out there?

Alma radio telescopes

The SETI Institute is America’s only organization entirely dedicated to searching for life in the Universe, from microbes to alien intelligence.

Visit our Educator Center

Browse our collection of educational resources, activities, and opportunities for educators and students.