For science’s sake, the squid is on its way to the International Space Station

Published on Thursday 03 June 2021 at 21:25

A SpaceX rocket blasted off toward the International Space Station on Thursday with a slew of science experiments on board, including a surprising population: a squid.

The spacecraft, which is chartered by NASA, launched from Florida at 1:29 pm local time (5:29 pm GMT). The Dragon capsule separated about 12 minutes after the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket. It is scheduled to dock at the Space Station (ISS) on Saturday.

Small specimens of squid (Euprymna scolopes) set out on a journey to study the effect of weightlessness on interactions between bacteria and their hosts.

Some squids will already be exposed to bacteria once they reach the International Space Station. Some will remain. After 12 hours, everything will be frozen until they return to Earth, where they will be studied.

“Animals, including humans, depend on microbes to keep their digestive and immune systems healthy,” Jamie Foster, lead author of the trial, said in a statement. “We don’t yet fully understand how spaceflight alters these interactions.”

In the future, the experiment could help develop techniques to protect the health of astronauts involved in long-term missions in space.

Also on board a SpaceX rocket: Tardigrades, aka water bears, are microscopic creatures that are known to resist. Scientists want to study how they adapt in space.

Thomas Boothby, the scientist responsible for this, explains: “One of the things we really want to do is understand how tardigrades survive and reproduce in these environments, and whether we can learn anything about and adapt to the tricks they use to protect astronauts.” .

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Cotton, portable ultrasonic machine… In total, the supply mission has transported more than 3000 kg of scientific goods.

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