When scientists put living organisms such as bacteria into the high-vacuum environment of a scanning electron microscope (SEM), things don’t end well for the critters. They rapidly dehydrate, collapse, and die. But as a team of researchers in Japan recently found, some organisms can live under vacuum for at least an hour when protected by a durable polymer membrane (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1221341110). This protective nanosuit, as the team calls it, might enable scientists to study the fine structure of living organisms and tissues with high-vacuum equipment in the future. Takahiko Hariyama of Hamamatsu University School of Medicine and coworkers noticed that fruit fly larvae continued to inch around under vacuum for an hour after being scanned with an SEM’s electron beam. If the larvae were not exposed to the beam but left under vacuum for an hour, they died. So Hariyama and coworkers concluded that the electron beam had polymerized the larvae’s outer coating of “extracellular substances,” forming a dehydration barrier. Mosquito larvae, which are not covered with these substances, survived under vacuum when the researchers dipped them in a polymerlike detergent and scanned them. The larvae went on to develop into normal adult mosquitoes after being removed from the microscope.