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Why NASA Launched Baby Squid and ‘Water Bears’ to the International Space Station

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More than a hundred baby squid, ‘water bears’ and thousands of other microscopic animals are passengers on Space X’s Falcon 9 rocket bound for the International Space Station as experiments that will help scientists better understand the effects of spaceflight.

Experiments include studying how water bears tolerate space, learning whether microgravity affects symbiotic relationships, analyzing kidney stone formation, and more.

Water Bears in Space

One of the strangest creatures in our world are tardigrades, known as ‘water bears’ appearing under the microscope.

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They are small creatures that commonly inhabit water and endure extreme environments, which makes them a model organism for studying biological survival in extreme conditions on Earth and in space.

Genes involved in adaptation and survival in high-stress environments have been identified.

Squids into space and their similarity to us

Did you know the immune system of squids is very similar to that of humans?

The 128 baby squid (bobtail squid, Euprymna scolopes) will be used as part of the research effects of international spaceflight on beneficial interactions between microbes and animals.

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Squids, and more things needed for experiments, travel on Space X’s Falcon 9 rocket. The goal of these experiments is for scientists to better understand the effects of spaceflight.

NASA explains that such an experiment would help in the development of protective measures to preserve the health of astronauts during long space missions.

Animals and humans depend on our microbes to maintain a healthy digestive and immune system. However, it is not known for sure how international flights affect these interactions, according to Jamie Foster, principal investigator of the experiment.

[NASABBC]

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