NASA is set to send around 5,000 tardigrades and 128 glow-in-the-dark baby squids into space. Here is what we know.
NASA is set to send around 5,000 tardigrades and 128 glow-in-the-dark baby squids into space. The animals will be sent to the International Space Station (ISS) next week as part of SpaceX’s 22nd cargo resupply mission. SpaceX is set to launch the microscopic critters onboard a Falcon 9 rocket on June 3 at 1:29 p.m EDT from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
What are Tardigrades and everything about the mission
Tardigrades are tiny creatures which are just 1 millimeter long. They get their name from their tubby, bear-like appearance when viewed through a microscope. These animals are capable of surviving under tough conditions including extreme radiation with pressures more than six times more compared to the deepest parts of the ocean; and the total vacuum of space. The ability of these tiny organisms to survive under high stress environments is attributed to make them a highly useful research organism aboard the ISS. Astronauts hope to identify the specific genes responsible for the tiny organism’s remarkable feats of adaptation to high stress environments.
In another mission, baby bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes) will be sent to the International Space station. These 3 mm long squids have a special ability which allows them to glow in the dark. These organisms possess a special light-producing organ inside their bodies where bioluminescent bacteria give the squid their glow. Researchers hope to decipher this symbiotic relationship between bacteria and squid to see how the microbes interact with animal tissue in space. It is interesting to note that these squids are born without the bacteria but then acquire it from the ocean around them. Researchers are planning to add the bacteria to the squid as soon as the animals get thawed out at the ISS.