A SpaceX rocket blasted off Thursday to the International Space Station with a whole series of science experiments on board, including a surprising population: the squid.
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The spacecraft, whose services are chartered by NASA, was launched from Florida at 1:29 pm local time (6:29 pm Paris time). The Dragon capsule separated from the Falcon 9 rocket about 12 minutes after liftoff. It is scheduled to dock with the space station (ISS) on Saturday.
Small samples of a species of cuttlefish (Euprymna scolopes) embark on the journey to study the effect of weightlessness on interactions between bacteria and their hosts.
Study the effects of space travel
A portion of the squid will already be exposed to bacteria once it gets aboard 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, the lead author of the experiment, explained in a press release. “We don’t yet fully understand how spaceflight alters these interactions.”
Thus, the experiment could, in the future, help develop techniques to protect the health of astronauts participating in long-term missions in space.
More than 3000 kg of scientific equipment
Also on board a SpaceX rocket: Tardigrades, also nicknamed water bears, are microscopic creatures known to resist. Scientists want to study how they adapt in space.
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“One of the things we really want to do is understand how tardigrades survive and reproduce in these environments, and if we can learn anything about the tricks they use and adapt to protect astronauts.”explained Thomas Boothby, the scientist responsible for this study.
Cotton, portable ultrasound machine… In total, the supply mission has carried more than 3000 kg of scientific goods.