Thousands Of Spineless Critters Have Been Sent To Space

SpaceX cargo resupply mission launching. Image Credit: NASA TV

On June 3, a SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft was sent to the International Space Station carrying over three tonnes of scientific experiments, as well as new solar arrays and other cargo for the astronauts. It is expected to autonomously dock with the space station on June 5.

Among the many experiments on board, there are several animal model experiments that aim to understand better how animals – including humans – adapt to space. The Cell Science-04 will look at tardigrades, the almost indestructible water bears, to work out how these incredible microscopic critters can survive incredibly stressful situations.

The UMAMI (Understanding of Microgravity on Animal-Microbe Interactions) experiment will instead use 128 baby bobtail squid to study the symbiotic relationship with their bacteria. The Molecular Muscle Experiment 2 instead uses the worm C. elegans to investigate how muscle declines in microgravity.

These and many other experiments will help improve approaches to keep astronauts healthy in space – but the benefits will be also reaped on Earth, as medical breakthroughs based on such investigations can help people suffering from many different conditions.

 


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