In news- NASA will send 128 glow-in-the-dark baby squids and 5,000 tardigrades (also called water bears) to the International Space Station for research purposes.
About the mission-
- The water animals, which will be launched aboard SpaceX’s 22nd cargo resupply mission to the ISS.
- The tardigrades and bobtail squid will be involved in experiments aboard the floating laboratory and will be arriving in a semi-frozen state before they are thawed out, revived and grown in a special bioculture system.
- Researchers have sequenced the genome of the tardigrade Hypsibius exemplaris and developed methods for measuring how different environmental conditions affect tardigrade gene expression.
- One of these studies involves looking at how the tardigrades that can adapt to extreme conditions on Earth, including high pressure, temperature and radiation– would behave in a spaceflight environment.
- Researchers will be able to study their hardiness close up, and possibly identify the genes that allow them to become so resilient.
- By learning how they can survive in low gravity conditions, it would be possible to design better techniques to keep astronauts healthy on long-duration space missions.
- Scientists also want to look at how microgravity conditions affect the relationship between the bobtail squid (which are 3 mm long) and beneficial microbes, as part of a study called Understanding of Microgravity on Animal-Microbe Interactions (UMAMI).
- The research will allow scientists to have a better understanding of how beneficial microbes interact with animals when there is a lack of gravity.
Meanwhile, Nasa will also undertake a study on kidney stones after some crew members exhibited increased susceptibility to kidney stones during flight. The Kidney Cells-02 investigation uses a 3D kidney cell model to study the effects of microgravity on the formation of microcrystals that can lead to kidney stones.